The health minister of South Australia recently announced that the state government is exploring opportunities to work with technology providers on a strategy for monitoring patients in aged care facilities. If the government successfully finds a technology company to work with, they’ll be able to start monitoring individuals in senior care facilities through CCTV surveillance.
According to the SA and federal governments, the UK company “Care Protect” was chosen to run a $500,000 federally-funded trial of monitoring and support strategies in around 5 different aged care facilities throughout South Australia. Unfortunately, the South Australian government has had to start the search for a technology provider all over again after the partnership with the original provider was scrapped. SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, and the Federal Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Richard Colbeck, have both said that they’re committed to this new project. However, this means they need to find a new technology provider to work with.
The details of why the previous agreement fell through haven’t been fully revealed. However, a spokesperson from the South Australian Health Department did say there were “operational and technical issues” that the government and the tech provider couldn’t work through.
What Do Trials Like This Mean for our Aged Care Residents?
The initial trial of CCTV technology in senior care was expected to start in 2019, although now it’s set to begin in 2020 instead. Already, a number of aged care facilities have been chosen for the test run, including:
- Mount Pleasant Aged Care
- Northgate House
- Waikerie Health Services
- Port Pirie Regional Health Service
- Bordertown Memorial Hospital
At first glance, the idea of being able to constantly monitor and watch over patients who need help might seem like a good one. However, trials like this one also present some serious issues when it comes to things like privacy in care.
The government noted that the trial CCTV pilot will assess how acceptable it truly is to have audio-visual monitoring tools available among residents and their families in a senior care facility. The government wants to find out once and for all whether CCTV monitoring for aged care residents is a problem for human rights and privacy purposes, or whether it could be a safe and cost-effective way to improve patient security and drive better care.
The SA Government has said that protecting the most vulnerable people in the region is one of their highest priorities, however, people are already beginning to share their concerns about the new trial. On the one hand, CCTV ensures that aged individuals can always rest assured they’re going to get the care that they need – because their care providers will be able to watch them at all times. On the other hand, this means that people of a certain age in aged care facilities may need to give up all of their privacy just for a better level of support.
Is There a Better Way?
According to the people behind the trial, the residents in the five locations mentioned above do have the right to either opt-in or out of the test. This means they don’t have to be monitored by CCTV if they don’t want to be. However, it’s difficult to see how it will be possible to stop other residents from appearing on the recordings of people who have “opted into” the study.
While some people will appreciate the extra protection that is offered through this somewhat bold initiative, others will see it as another example of senior individuals not getting the respect they deserve. After all, there are better ways to track the safety and security of an aged care resident without diminishing their privacy.
The Elsi Smart Floor System, for instance, is an artificial intelligence sensing device that can be placed underneath the floor of a typical care home environment. The sensors in the floor can detect when people are moving around in their bedrooms in ways that may cause safety and health concerns or are designed to alert nurses to potential or actual problems. The smart system is designed to send notifications to care providers who may need to check on residents during the night. The floor can also detect falls and send instant alerts to nurses and doctors so that patients can get the support they need in an emergency.
Similar to a CCTV monitoring strategy, an Elsi smart floor system allows the care providers in a healthcare facility to respond immediately to issues that a resident might be having. The difference is that the patient still gets to maintain a normal life, with all the privacy that they would expect when living at home. The Elsi Smart Floor system is non-invasive – unlike CCTV systems.
Contact HLS Healthcare today to learn more about the benefits of choosing an Elsi smart floor system.