It seems that the biggest players in the social care sector are talking about technology-enabled care and how it can improve client outcomes.
But most home care business owners aren’t, and don’t claim to be, tech people. So how do they go about choosing from the myriad of internet-enabled devices that are out there? And, if they do choose to implement them, how do they begin to understand how to use these gadgets to improve the care of their clients?
One start-up company named Anthropos is on a mission to break down these barriers and help care providers use technology to improve planning and delivery, without the stress.
Brains behind the operation
Launched in 2016, Anthropos is the brainchild of David Mobbs, the former chairman of Nuffield Health, and two other businesses – software provider Pumpco and Differentis, the IT management consultancy that helped build British Gas’ smart home business, Hive.
“Differentis was asked by a company called Alert Me to do some technology due diligence on an IoT platform they had built, and Differentis basically said it wasn’t fit for purpose. So, effectively, Differentis rearchitectured, redesigned and rebuilt it. Alert Me was then sold to British Gas and it became Hive,” says Anthropos chief marketing officer Paul Berney (pictured centre with his parents).
“So, the chief technical officer of Anthropos, Tim Coote, is the guy who architectured what became Hive,” he adds.
Once Alert Me was sold, Anthropos looked for ways to replicate the platform, but within a different market.
“[The founders] weren’t really interested in managing thermostats in the home, they wanted to look for ways they could make a bigger impact. Our company chairman was at the time the chairman of Nuffield Health and he proposed the view that we could make a bigger difference in social care,” explains Berney.
“So we began the process of looking for a partner and the development skills to do that, and that turned out to be Pumpco, which had been creating software and IoT in the medical sphere. So those two companies came together to build a new IoT platform.”
Nearly five years on, and after a successful pilot with Home Instead Senior Care, Anthropos has proven that its platform can help providers deliver better care outcomes.
What do they do?
Anthropos is a cloud-based platform that connects to a range of monitoring devices and sensors in a client’s home and combines the data they collect. It then converts this combined data into information about a client’s home environment and their behaviour.
This information can then be used to support improved care planning and delivery; help providers understand what is happening in the home when family members and carers aren’t around; provide reassurance for family members; and support pre-emptive care.
“We are focused on two things – giving you an alert that says ‘something has happened, you need to act’ and insight that says ‘things are changing’,” says Berney.
One of the barriers to implementing tech-enabled care is the fear that it will replace the human touch, but Anthropos is clear about its goal to provide trustworthy data and leave the decisions about what actions should be taken up to the domiciliary care provider.
“The people that use our dashboard can see for themselves the pattern of behaviour of the individuals they are caring for. We highlight where we think there has been a meaningful change in that pattern, but the registered manager or home care business owner is the one that looks at it and says ‘something needs to be done here’,” Berney explains.
“In fact, it’s hugely to their benefit to be able to have a fact-based conversation with the older person and their family, rather than one that’s based upon ‘here’s what we think is going on when we’re not there’.”
Taking the stress away
So how does Anthropos take the stress of implementing tech-enabled care away from providers? Firstly, the platform is designed to work with any device and manufacturer.
“Nobody can tell you right now what the best device is going to be in the long term. In fact, there will be rapid improvements over time. So we want to take on almost any device at any stage, so, from that perspective, we are able to evolve,” explains Berney.
Secondly, Anthropos chooses the devices that are used, based on the client’s needs and the outcomes the provider wants to achieve.
“Providers shouldn’t have to choose the technology. They want to focus on what they do really, really well, and we do the other part,” says Berney.
“It’s about integrating every device you can, collecting all the data you can, and turning that data into something useable. The care industry is not full of people who understand technology – they want to deliver care. So our goal is to have providers have as little involvement as possible in the tech part.”
Anthropos then installs the technology, maintains it, extracts information and turns that information into intelligence.
“[Providers] don’t have to do any of that. Plus, all of the devices that we pick are passive, so they all disappear into the background. So we don’t ask anyone to wear anything,” adds Berney.
Home Instead pilot
The pilot for the Anthropos Connected Care Platform ran throughout 2018 at four Home Instead Senior Care franchises in Bristol North, Charnwood, Market Harborough and the Wirral, providing their carers with a range of intelligent information.
The franchises and their carers found that this information helped them to design better care plans and gave family members reassurance about what was happening to their loved ones when they could not be there.
“I have to say that [Home Instead] is an excellent partner. Not only were we trying to test the technology and make sure the technology worked, but we also worked with them to work out how this kind of technology-enabled care fits in with the normal business operation of a domiciliary care provider, at a local office level – that’s the biggest challenge,” explains Berney.
One example of how the platform resulted in better care outcomes for Home Instead was when it detected that an older lady living in the Wirral had got out of bed during the night and didn’t return, or appear anywhere else in the house.
“The platform uses multiple sensors and adds up data from those sensors, so we knew that wasn’t her normal behaviour. So it sent an alert to Home Instead to say ‘we think there’s a possibility that the lady has fallen over’,” says Berney.
“Home Instead sent a caregiver along to check on her, but they couldn’t find her. There was a little bit of concern that perhaps she had left the home and we had missed her, but in fact she had got up during the middle of the night, got dressed, climbed into the wardrobe and then fell down inside the wardrobe.
“She was fine because the caregiver found her, but she hadn’t been due a visit for three days, so she could have spent three days inside a wardrobe. It’s only because the platform understood her normal behaviour, and knew that that was not the norm for her, that it raised the alert.
“We don’t use things like fall alarms – we use a system that’s called ‘no movement in a high risk area’, which we think is more accurate because it’s pulling in data from a room sensor.”
Another example of where insight from Anthropos has made a difference to a person’s life is when the platform started to send out information about the temperature of clients’ homes during the heat wave in the summer of 2018.
“The owner of the Bristol North franchise noticed that the temperature was very high in one particular client’s house and her movement had slowed down, and she had been using the fridge and kettle less.
“So a caregiver went round and found her, not surprisingly, on the edge of dehydration because she wasn’t able to control the temperature in her house or drink properly. The provider was able to take pre-emptive action, but if she was left another 24 hours she would have got a UTI and been admitted to hospital.”
Anthropos attended the Home Instead Senior Care conference in November and noticed a dramatic difference in franchise owners’ views on tech-enabled care compared to when the pilot first launched.
“The most pleasing thing was that the conversations with local offices have switched from ‘what is connected care and why do I need it?’ to ‘how will this help me improve care for my clients and how do I implement this?’” reflects Berney.
“I believe that Home Instead as an organisation sees technology-enabled care as a critical part of the delivery of care services in the future and we are well placed to be at the heart of that.”
Anthropos is now working with eight different universities across the UK, including the University of Oxford, the University of Warwick and Imperial College London, to create a research and advisory board.
The company hopes to pull together key academics to guide the future development of the technology and how it could make a difference to people’s lives going forward.
“We would like to bring in people with greater levels of care experience who can tell us about changes in care outcomes and what really interests people in domiciliary care, as well as other forms of social care, such as retirement living,” explains Berney.
“We need that external insight to help us decide how we should develop the programme further.”