Pioneering app uses ‘smart’ sensors and tracking devices to help Sunderland dementia sufferers remain in their own homes

A pioneering digital scheme is helping dementia sufferers.

Friday, 9th August 2019, 6:00 am
Irene and Keith Bowater with their son Iain and social worker Rachael Fenwick.

As part of a pilot programme being trialled by Sunderland City Council, adults receiving social care additional support now have technological help with things like managing medication and keeping their homes secure.The home of Keith Bowater, 82 and his wife Irene, 79, is among 120 in Sunderland with new devices to manage the affects of their dementia. If the scheme is successful, up to 5,500 residents could benefit.

The couple struggle with short term memory, which, if not managed could lead to issues with their health and security.

Under the Assistive Technologies Scheme, sensors have been added which text their family if doors are unlocked between 8pm and 7am. ‘Smart’ medication boxes send alerts if opened between 10am and 6pm, helping monitor the couple’s intake.

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'Smart' technology is helping keep Irene Bowater safe in her home.

'Smart' plugs have been installed, monitoring when the kettle is switched on, or the fridge is opened. If neither are used for long periods, the couple can be reminded to eat or drink.

Irene and Keith also have personal trackers, to alert their family should they fall over or get lost outside.

Their son, Iain Bowater, said: "My parents are happy at home. But it gives me a lot of comfort knowing that they are safe day and night. The devices are all set up to send me, my brother Grant and my sister Kaye an alert when something happens.

"There’s a logic to the alerts that come through most days. For example, if the kettle is switched on I know that I should also get an alert saying the fridge has been opened – my parents getting milk out for their tea.

Social worker Rachael Fenwick with the 'Smart' medication management boxes which monitors the Bowaters' daily medication.

“If this doesn’t happen, I give them a call and check they haven’t gotten distracted or forgotten what they were doing. It really does help our whole family relax."

Sunderland City Council cabinet member for health and social care, Councillor Dr Geoffrey Walker said: "I’m so pleased to hear that through our innovation in adapting technology we are helping people to stay in their own home and live independently for longer.”

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Door sensors are among the 'assistive digital technology' devices at the Bowater's home.
Alerts on Iain Bowater's smartphone keep him informed of his parent's well-being.
Sunderland City Council cabinet member for health and social care, Councillor Dr Geoffrey Walker.