Alone in her home, Carmel Oxley suffered a reaction to new medication. Confused and in the grips of an anxiety attack, she instinctively pressed the button on her HomeStay hub.
“The security of it being there, I knew I could just reach out and I didn’t have to make any decisions, someone would take care of that. I knew that help was on its way,” Carmel, 71, said of that terrifying morning.
The response was immediate and the first question that came through the hub’s speaker from the 24/7 call centre was: “Are you all right, Carmel?”
An ambulance and her daughter, Rosa, were called.
Urgent assistance provided during medical emergencies is invaluable to Carmel, who lives with diabetes, back injuries and osteoarthritis.
“That sense of safety and security, you can’t put a price on that,” the Sydney resident said.
In addition to the hub and pendant, the HomeStay system in Carmel’s home includes door, fridge and motion sensors that communicate data to an app. Carmel’s son Jason, daughter Rosa and her home carer use the app to gain insights into how she is.
“They love it because they get notifications every morning and so does Carol, my carer. They know when I’m up and out of bed and when I open the fridge. If I don’t open the fridge, they know I haven’t been eating. That’s all through the app.
“The doors on the front and the side have the sensors and so if I go to bed without closing the doors, they get notifications after 10pm saying the doors are open.
“The bathroom monitor is set so that if I am in the bathroom for longer than two hours it sends a notification that I’ve been in the bathroom for too long. That gives me the extra sense of security that if I did fall, I wouldn’t be left lying on my own.”
Carmel’s care worker Carol Randell has worked in the aged care industry for 33 years and said the technologies integrated discretely throughout the house are a relief.
“That’s peace of mind for me to know that when I leave Carmel there’s something in place that lets me know if something’s happened to her.”
During her long career, Carol said she has found a number of people lying immobile or deceased and believes it is a carer’s “greatest fear”.
“I think for any carer, to turn up at a client’s house and find them unresponsive is your greatest fear because they become family. You don’t say client anymore because they’re not like a client. I tell Carmel all the time that she’s like my mum.”
Carol said she will get an alert if the system detects a possible problem and can visit straight away, which provides her with “absolute peace of mind.”
In fact, she goes so far as to say that right now Carmel is safer in her own home than she would be in an aged care facility that hasn’t implemented the technologies.
“This technology in a home provides more security in the event of a fall or a choking episode that could make a person fall or be immobile than they would have in an aged care facility.”
Carol is also aware of the positive impact the system has had on Carmel’s sense of well-being.
“It’s good for me as I also see how secure Carmel feels as a result of it. It’s almost like she has a carer with her all the time,” Carol said.
“It’s like a guardian”.
For Carmel, who has a level 3 home care package, there is great relief in having a system that helps her to remain where she wants to be – at home.
Maintaining her independence is particularly important. Carmel worked for many years as a nurse and aged care worker, and insists she will not move into a care facility.
“Going into care is not for me. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, I’m not going to do it.”