Smart Way of Living for People with Dementia

Photo: An elderly woman looking out of a window

By monitoring movement within the home, the system is able to respond to many different situations without having to contact care staff, often just using simple voice prompts, which could be recorded by family members. The technology, which has been developed by the Bath Institute of Medical Engineering (BIME) at the University of Bath, has been designed to help people readjust to living on their own after a stay in hospital, and aims to reduce the risk of users being readmitted to hospital or going into long term care.

For example, if the occupant was detected opening the main door at inappropriate times they would be given a prompt to let them know the time and encourage them to go back to bed. Similarly, if the occupant got out of bed at night, the bedroom lights would be gently faded up. The system provides a very quick response and gives residents a greater feeling of control and independence as it doesn't rely on people coming in from outside to resolve problems, with outside help only called in for real emergencies.

“The whole installation is quite unique because it is designed to empower the resident rather than relying on outside help to deal with problems. The idea is that residents will stay in the smart home for a short period of around three months, before returning to their own home”, said Professor Roger Orpwood, Director of BIME.

The technology in the ‘enabling smart home’ at the Hillside Court ‘very sheltered’ housing scheme in St George, Bristol, has been developed over several years in consultation with people with dementia and their carers. The flat has been set up as a two year pilot to assess how the technology helps give people more independence and control.; Source: University of Bath