The overall objective of this Fast Track SBIR application is to create and deploy an innovative system that will help more elders to continue living at home while being safely cared for by Personal Care Service (PCS) agencies. Based on the research team's prior experience developing fall sensors and other technologies to allow elders to "age in place", we have developed an unobtrusive, in-home, passive, system that allows PCS caregivers to be remotely alerted to dangerous situations. They can then remotely investigate the issue through voice and video communications and respond accordingly. Currently, of the 11.3M elders who live alone, about 300,000 of them cared for by PCS agencies. We hypothesize that this system will significantly increase the efficiency of the PCS agencies and thus allow them to safely care for more elders at a lower cost to each client. This in-turn will allow more elderly people to avoid having to move into nursing homes or assisted living facilities. To our knowledge, this is the only such system being developed in academia or commercially. At a high-level the proposed system consists of a custom activity/fall sensor and two-way voice communicator (worn by the elder), several off-the-shelf motion sensors and alarming devices, two night-vision cameras, an in-home cellular "hub" based on a tablet computer, and a secure sever to analyze the data and present it to PCS caregivers in a way that integrates into their existing workflow.
The aims of Phase I are to develop a pilot of this system based on the team's previous research into the needs of our potential PCS clients, then to obtain feedback by deploying and testing this prototype in a small number of elders'homes. In Phase II we will refine and expand the pilot to create a fully functional system, then deploy that system on a much wider scale for a one-year period. During this time we will collect data to determine if the system providers improved safety, the reduction of costs to care for an individual elder, and increased profitability and/or efficiency for the PCS agency.
89% of the 41M elders who live in the US want to live in their own home as long as possible. The cost to build enough nursing home beds for those that will need them in 2030 will be $145B and it will cost $260B a year to maintain these. Aging in place is therefore desirable from both an elder satisfaction and an economic perspective. If successful, this project will allow elders to remain in their own homes longer, deferring or possibly even eliminating the need to move into a nursing home, because it will enable Personal Care Service agencies to provide safer care, to more clients in their own homes, and at lower costs to the individual client.