Dementia patients could be prescribed smart home kits at the point of diagnosis by the end of the decade, according to expert analysis.
Professor David Sharp, a neurologist at Imperial College London and head of the new £20 million Care Research & Technology Centre, told The Times that he hoped that technology would be available to support patients in ten years’ time.
GPs might select smartphone apps to help patients track things such as sleep or concentration levels, for instance.
That could be followed by a visit from a professional to install physical sensors to track patients, and a specially designed secure hard drive, kept within the home, to which the information collected would be delivered, Sharp suggested.
“Like when you are deploying your Sky box into your home — the level of technology is not that dissimilar from that level of sophistication – you might have your dementia engineer come over and deploy the technology into your home and that would provide the kind of information we are talking about,” Sharp told The Times. “This may sound science fiction, but many of the elements of this are in place.”
Commenting on Sharp’s prediction, Prestige Nursing + Care managing director Jonathan Bruce said the initiative would be “long overdue”.
“We welcome the initiative to provide smart home kits for dementia patients by the end of the decade. The implementation of smart technology, such as radar to monitor movement and robotic devices that give alerts when things like the hob are left on, will provide added comfort to those with dementia, as well as their families and the carers that look after them,” he said.
“The fact it could also reduce the amount of hospital admissions for dementia patients, which would further improve the quality of life and reduce pressure on staff, is something we fully support.”
But while smart-tech initiatives should be welcome, it’s “imperative” that the care industry doesn’t see advances in technology as a way to ignore the sector’s funding shortcomings, warned Bruce.
“The care industry still desperately needs financial support to solve the growing crisis in staff shortages and weakening infrastructure,” he said.
Prestige Nursing + Care has recently partnered with Dementia UK to provide a specialist dementia nurse to support service users and their families.
Based in Norfolk, Admiral Nurse Sue Jones will provide one-to-one support, practical advice and expert guidance to help local people face dementia with more confidence and less fear.