We were all shocked and saddened to read of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s preliminary findings, and Andrew and I set about to see if we could use our solution to address the issues of neglect, and in some cases, abuse.

The ageing population faces increasing vulnerability as their independence declines.

Gretel uses wearable devices to gather highly accurate location and interaction data in aged care facilities.

Our system enables traceability, tailored observation, and peace of mind for family and residential care providers.

It’s become increasingly clear that there’s a current crisis in Australia, if not globally, within the aged care sector. We were all shocked and saddened to read of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s findings.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report has found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.

Commissioners Richard Tracey AM, RFD, QC and Lynelle Briggs’s AO investigation into Australia’s aged care system led them to describe the aged care system as “a shocking tale of neglect”.

“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety ‘Aged Care in Australia: A Shocking Tale of Neglect’ 31 October 2019

The Australian Government’s Institute of Health and Welfares states a snapshot of the people who were in permanent residential aged care on 30 June 2018 revealed:

  • Depression was the most commonly diagnosed mental health condition (49%).
  • Dementia had been diagnosed in just over half of the consumers (52%).

In recent years, there has been a shift to promote emotional and mental health and adopt a holistic approach to aging. Chaiwoo Lee, a researcher at the AgeLab, notes that people are trying to move away from medicalizing health and that “older adults care about being connected to family and staying productive.” Through her research on caregivers, Chaiwoo has found that one of their most time-consuming tasks is “keeping older adults company and managing emotional burden.” By enhancing seniors’ social life and connectivity, gerontechnology can help seniors avoid depression, boredom, and loneliness.

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Our Solution

Gretel Analytics’ ability to map and monitor interactions between consumers/consumers, consumers/staff and consumers/visitors gives detailed insight into the social patterns of those in residential aged care. Essentially, monitoring social engagement enables a proactive approach and intervention, to ensure that consumers’ socialisation needs are being met.

We can detect when a consumer has spent significant periods alone and trigger alerts to family and staff, enabling them to engage with the consumer in a timely fashion, rather than treat depression once a sense of isolation has been established.

One Dashboard. Three Views.

We have created 3 dashboard views, accessible by permissions to different roles of staff and associated family and loved ones. This enables facility staff and administration to focus on either the individual consumer or patient’s behaviour patterns and status, or access overall venue patterns. 

The family view enables limited access to individual consumer’s information. They can quickly view where their loved one is at any given time on the live map. They can view a zone trail which gives an “at a glance” view of how long the consumer has been in different zones chronologically over the last 12 hrs. How many interactions they’ve had that day, and what their last reported mood was.

Part of our offering is tailored analytics specific to the outcomes required by each space. For example geo-fencing of areas in which dementia patients are deemed safe, enables notification to relevant staff when perimetres have been compromised. Over time patterns of such behaviour can be assessed and anticipated.

Down the Road

While we believe that in the short term Gretel Analytics’ solution for the residential aged care sector will enable significant improvement of care and quality of life for consumers, we are excited to see accumulated learnings of what works best for consumers over time. This data driven understanding will meaningfully inform how aged care facilities are designed and operated.

The world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. Today, 8.5 percent of people worldwide (617 million) are aged 65 and over. According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, this percentage is projected to jump to nearly 17 percent of the world’s population by 2050 (1.6 billion).

In Australia alone, in 2017–18, governments spent around $18 billion on aged care, with the majority—approximately 67% of this—for residential aged care.

Gretel is excited to be impacting this growing sector positively, using data to ensure quality care and connectivity with family and community for our ageing population.