Robots and laser beams aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think of aged care, but that’s exactly what one residential aged care facility in western Sydney can expect. While we’re not quite at the stage of having personal-helper robots to attend to our every need, the technology at the state-of-the-art John Edmondson VC Gardens centre is certainly a step in that direction.
“Technology will never replace the dedication and service of trusted care and health professionals but it can support them to provide even better and more efficient care,” aged care minister Ken Wyatt said of the centre’s opening on October 30.
Wyatt is also encouraging other aged care facilities to adopt the new innovations, such as laser beams for the bedroom, floor sensors, and trip light technology, all of which will help to alert staff if a resident has suffered a fall and has not yet called for help.
The great thing about this technology is that it operates on passive rather than active involvement from the resident. If a person is in no position to reach their emergency call button or phone for help, their condition could go unnoticed for hours. However, having sensors to inform staff when there has been unusual and unexplained movement in a home could help detect and resolve the problem more quickly.
A smart medication management system will help to improve distribution, ensuring that residents do not take too much or too little of their prescription. Another improvement for health services will come with the ability to video-conference with specialists rather than travelling long or inconvenient distances for appointments.
Sensors will also be introduced to monitor and report on residents’ locations. While many may balk at that description and wonder if it will impinge on their privacy, such technology could be incredibly useful for residents living with dementia who are prone to wandering when confused. This will be especially helpful at the John Edmondson VC Garden facility, which will have a specialised dementia unit staffed by registered nurses who are trained to manage dementia and challenging behaviours.
These new systems will help make the residents’ lives easier without confusing them with a whole range of new buttons to push or screens to navigate. The systems will also help ease some of the pressure on staff, who can better attend to situations when promptly alerted by technology.
The community, run by RSL LifeCare, caters for veterans of the Australian Defence Force and their families. The facility was named after World War II hero John Hurst Edmondson, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for outstanding bravery and service during the siege of Tobruk in North Africa in 1941.
“As we age, it can be hard to maintain our social connections, and that’s not good for our mental or physical wellbeing,” Wyatt said. “RSL LifeCare recognises this and works to ensure all of their residents are welcome members of a community, founded on respect, with connections to our armed forces.”