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In Australia, there are over one million people living at home alone. Now, a new Smart Home technology will support these people by detecting and predicting when something goes wrong, then then alerting a family member or care provider.
The new technology is called Umps Health, and was first developed in 2016 by Adam Jahnke, who was inspired by his own family’s experience supporting his grandpa to continue living at home after a fall.
Adam was working at the intersection of public health and technology at the time. “It was a natural instinct for me to look to technology to support my family – in addition to all of the time we were spending with him. My grandpa already had the typical falls detection system – a button and pendant that is worn around the neck. The issue was that he didn’t wear it sometimes and if he fell, we would find out about it after it had happened.”
So Adam developed a new technology which could work for his grandpa. Once installed, it worked so well Adam realised it could benefit many more people. So he started a company and logically, he called it ‘Umps Health’ as calls his grandpa ‘Umps.’
The Umps Health Smart Home is supporting a growing number of older Australians who live at home independently
At a time when the percentage of Australians over 65 will reach 25 per cent by 2050 and aged care is expected to be the fastest growing spending item (after the National Disability Insurance Scheme) this year, growing at over 7 per cent per annum, technology like Umps Health is likely to be a major help to a large number of people. Technology like this is also in tune with the Australian government’s recent initiative to move 80 per cent of aged care into the home by 2050.
As Adam says: “Already today, we’re facing huge shortages in the aged care workforce – so the system we have today can’t scale to meet the increase in demand for aged care services over the next decade. Innovations like Umps Health will be essential to the sustainability of the aged care system, and improving outcomes for older Australians across the spectrum of aged care services”.
How does the Umps Health Smart Home work?
When Adam first looked at the types of technology supporting older people to remain at home, he discovered that the majority of people with a personal alarm tend to not wear the pendants around the home. “People feel safe and comfortable in the home they’ve been living in for sometimes 50 to 60 – or even 70 years. So it’s hard to actually imagine yourself lying on the floor, unable to call for help” says Adam.
He says the Umps Health Smart Home is different because it acts as a safety net which sits in the background and if something does go wrong, it’s picked up quickly: “Our analytics platform identifies that the fridge hasn’t been opened and the kettle hasn’t been used, or the TV hasn’t been turned off and the bedside lamp hasn’t been turned off – that sort of thing. It then raises an alert which goes out as a text to family members. We can see up to 40 or 50 interactions in the home a day so we do pick up reasonably quickly if there’s a change in behaviour,” he says.
Adam adds that the Smart Home also looks out for changes in activity which occurs before an incident happens. “For example, the fridge is usually opened about 23 or 24 times a day. If the analytics platform detects that it has only been opened a couple of times over the previous few days, this could indicate a decline in appetite or restriction of mobility which comes before a lot of health incidents that lead to hospitalisations. So we can actually provide these kinds of insights as well, so intervention can happen before someone needs to go to hospital,” he says.
When the Umps Health system finds something unusual, it sends an alert to the family or carer by text message. “The system will send a message that tells the nominated contact that the fridge has only been opened twice. A decrease in appetite often comes before a major health incident. We recommend checking in,” says Adam.
A focus on protecting the privacy of the older person
The Umps Health Smart Home is different from other solutions because it doesn’t use cameras or motion sensors. The system works entirely off interactions with existing home appliances, which Adam says their customers find reassuring.
“It’s a solution that’s really easy for people to understand, install and maintain themselves. The plugs themselves are very non-intrusive, and people don’t have to worry about changing any batteries. We’ve had people using the Smart Home for years – it just becomes a part of everyday life for people”.
“Of course, we also never share any information to people without a person’s consent. The only people to receive alerts and insights are the older person themselves and their nominated contacts. And even then, we’re only sending alerts when something is out of the norm – so our users’ are really comfortable that their privacy is being preserved”.
Simple to install, simple to maintain
When asked if the Umps Health Smart Home is easy to install, Adam says: “Anyone can install it – we’ve had an 88-year-old woman who doesn’t have the internet install it for her brother in ten minutes. It’s just a matter of plugging the hub in and then plugging the plugs in-between the appliances”.
Adam adds they get a lot of positive feedback from people who have the system: “They say they’re more comfortable in their home because of it and their family members are more comfortable as well,” he says.
“We’ve had some really great feedback from people saying they like the idea of this safety net looking after. It’s comforting for them to know if something goes wrong, their family members will be notified,” he adds.
Umps Health for care providers
The Umps Health Smart Home can be used for care providers as well as family members: “We can raise an alert to a care provider as well,” says Adam. “We have a provider portal where a provider can view all of the clients they’re managing. So a case manager could have between 40 and 70 clients and they’d be able to view which clients need the most urgent care.”
Umps Health is based in Melbourne but there are already people all around Australia using the Umps Health Smart Home. The company is now working with a number of home care providers to offer the technology to people on home care packages, but people can also purchase Umps Health directly from Umps Health’s website.
Or call Umps Health on 1300 907 272 or visit www.umpshealth.com