Keeping a senior in a nursing home is incredibly expensive. Bringing in a home healthcare aid may be more economical, but a nurse can't monitor each client 24/7.
That's the niche Rest Assured fills. The system sounds like something out of Orwell: A typical setup includes two-way video monitoring and an array of sensors that tell the Tele-Caregiver at Rest Assured's home base in Lafayette, Ind., how long a senior has stayed in the bathroom or if they've opened the medicine cabinet to take their prescriptions. It also measures the temperature, calculates carbon monoxide and even indicates when a client sits in a specific chair or goes to bed.
But the heart of the system is a little less big brother and a little more warm and fuzzy. Caregivers interact with clients, checking in at set times each day, appearing on a video monitor with reminders to take medicine. Some drop in digitally during dinnertime to keep their clients company. If there's a problem they can't handle remotely, they'll dispatch someone to the home or contact a family member.
"There are some people out there who say no way, but those people usually say no to homecare service in general," says Dustin Wright, general manager of Rest Assured. "When we tell them they can control what the caregiver sees and how much they interact and that this is a safety net for them, adoption is a lot easier."
The Rest Assured system was developed five years ago as a joint venture between the Wabash Center, which provides services to the developmentally disabled, and ResCare, a home healthcare provider that offers the system commercially, and in collaboration with Purdue University's College of Technology. But the concept is only now starting to take off. Many of the 400 systems installed so far allow children who live in another state or city to check in on their parents remotely, like the Rest Assured Tele-Caregiver.
"There needs to be a cultural shift in people's minds before the market adopts this," Wright says. "[But] the baby boomer generation is more tech-savvy than their parents. I would be shocked if we don't double business in the next year or so."
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