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Dementia sufferers trial new technology

A project exploring how style technology can increase suppor..

A project exploring how style technology can increase support for people with dementia is under way.

John Edwards was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in June 2015.

A former airline training pilot, he suffers with mild to moderate dementia.

John and his wife Marion volunteered to test some new technology which could help them by connecting them remotely to support.

Since becoming part of the study earlier this year, the couple have been using a variety of devices – such as sensors and trackers using the so-called Internet of Things.

They are placed around their home or worn so that NHS clinicians can monitor John's health and safety from elsewhere.

"It is really great because you can then go out safely. I go out to my choir practice knowing that I can leave him and he will be monitored 24/7," Marion said.

John added: "We are very lucky really, it is as though you've got a doctors surgery all for yourself and they are monitoring you all the time."

Video:New tech for dementia sufferers explained

The technology analyses the physical data entries recorded by the couple each day and keeps track of certain things like blood pressure, hydration and temperature.

The sensors and devices feedback information in real time so that monitoring staff can see whether someone has wandered too far from home, had a fall or is becoming unwell.

It can also identify whether someone is not following their usual patterns of behaviour.

Director of innovation and development at Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Helen Rostill, said she is pleased with the early indications.

"We know that the data that we have collected has been really important in making decisions about healthcare interventions.

"If something goes wrong the machine is already learning a lot about people's normal patterns of behaviour so it clearly picks up when things start to deviate.

"When that happens we get an alert that's flagged at our monitoring centre and that alert is both a visual alert and an auditory alert so it tells us to pay attention that something is happening here."

The study is being led by Surrey and Borders NHS Trust and funded by the Department of Health and is in partnership with the University of Surrey, the Alzheimer's Society and others.

It draws to a close in March 2018 but it is hoped this new way of delivering care for people with long term and complex health conditions will eventually be rolled out nationally – and applied more broadly.

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