Innovation

25 April 2019

The care centre: innovative home care from a distance

Integrated and continuous healthcare requires better coordinated home care and more telemedicine. This is one of the conclusions of the Health ProspectING study by ING. The care centres of the Wit-Gele Kruis and Z-Plus are responding to this need.

Home care and remote supervision offer many opportunities for informal carers, healthcare professionals and patients themselves. The demand is increasing and the technological developments within that domain show no sign of stopping.

Happy Aging visited the Wit-Gele Kruis (WGK) in Limburg to find out all about its care centre. Competitor and colleague Z-Plus also explained its latest services. It is clear that the care centre will continue to play an important role if we want to offer more care at home. 

Personal alarm
A personal alarm is an ideal aid for those who want to continue to live safely in their home environment for as long as possible

The care centre offers 24/7 solutions for requests for help. This way a wide range of telephone and alarm solutions are available to patients, caregivers and external organisations.

A personal alarm is an ideal aid for those who want to continue to live safely in their home environment for as long as possible. The systems are wearable and easy to operate for elderly people with an increased risk of falling or social isolation. At one touch of the button, the person requesting help can contact the care centre where all calls are answered day and night.

The Wit-Gele Kruis employs its own nurses as care operators. With their expertise they can follow up on any call appropriately and, if necessary, contact the carer or one of their own nurses. The operator maintains contact with the person requesting help and can trace the caller’s geographical location in the event of an emergency. For home supervision, Z-Plus’s care centre collaborates with the home nursing service Interventiedienst Thuisverpleging, so it can guarantee emergency and ambulance services.

The personal alarm system can be extended to include various smart detectors. These can be simple smoke or CO detectors in the home, but also motion detectors or a medication dispenser that keeps track of whether or not medication has already been taken. And even more ‘smart’ sensors may be added in the future. For example, these might monitor physical health and, on this basis, offer health advice or call for external help. 

For external parties too
External parties can engage the care centre to answer their calls outside office hours.

Availability and the patient’s experience of the telephone contact are essential aspects of the care centre’s service. Short waiting times and a sympathetic ear contribute to customer satisfaction. The care centre can, for example, connect with the patient via video calls. A ‘good morning’ service can be put in place for lonely elderly people, or the nurse can help a patient to remember to take medication.

The care centres run by the Wit-Gele Kruis and Z-plus are also available to external organisations, such as assisted living groups or health insurance companies. For example, these parties can engage the care centre to answer their calls outside office hours. Care institutions, such as OCMWs (Public Centres for Social Welfare) and the palliative network Pallion, make grateful use of this service. 

Innovative projects

The availability of a telephone and alarm centre provides opportunities to facilitate various innovative projects, such as in relation to primary healthcare. For example, work has been taking place on various innovations in recent years, such as the medication dispenser and home medical supervision.

  • Medication dispenser (Wit-Gele Kruis)

The electronic medication dispenser helps patients to take their medication at the right time. This appliance emits an audible signal as a reminder and records when the dispenser is twisted to remove the medication. The signal then stops automatically. The medication dispenser can be connected up to the care centre for optimum remote supervision and support.

  • Medical measurements (Z-plus)

The care centre monitors and analyses various medical measurements which patients take themselves at home. Examples include glucose, blood pressure and heart rate measurements. The care operators feed the results back to both the patient and the caregivers involved. This provides opportunities for thorough supervision of patients with (various) chronic conditions.

The care centre will continue to develop in the future. The integration of systems for locating patients away from home as well as more extensive telemonitoring systems and fall detection technology is high on the wish list. By integrating these services, the care centre can play an important role in the central provision and supervision of telemedicine. This development will not only lead to more and better care in the home environment, it will also create new kinds of care by using analytical algorithms to prevent and predict care needs.

  • A personal alarm is an ideal aid for those who want to continue to live safely in their home environment for as long as possible.

  • External organisations such as health insurance companies can also rely on the care centre.

  • The care centre plays an important role in the central provision of telemedicine.

Happy Aging as facilitator

Happy Aging encourages entrepreneurship within (elderly) care. An extensive network of companies, healthcare organisations, knowledge institutions, policy organisations and citizens is involved in sustainable innovation in this sector. In the unique living lab, Happy Aging focuses on the end user: elderly people, carers and healthcare professionals. They provide feedback on their needs, wishes and limitations, and they test innovative products and services. Within that framework, Happy Aging organises a ‘Happy Aging on Tour’ event several times a year, where one of the member organisations is visited and other members are given a platform to make a pitch. This is the ideal opportunity to get to know each other better in an informal environment and to gain more insight into the activities of our members.

This article has been written thanks to the collaboration and partnership between ING and Happy Aging.