Seniors are the main target group of VictoryaHome. Our services help them to keep in touch with their family and friends, to feel safer, and to stay healthy at home. Therefore, VictoryaHome includes smart devices like an activity monitor, fall detector, automatic pill dispenser, and a mobile telepresence device,a social robot offering instant offering instant presence by family, friends or home care when desired.
Family & Friends
Family and friends are other very important users of VictoryaHome. They are offered peace-of-mind and a drastically decreased burden of taking care.. To reach this, VictoryaHome includes a smartphone app that gives an overview of the senior’s wellbeing, by showing for example missed medication, falls and visit me requests sent by the senior. In response, family and friends can use the social robot to make a virtual visit.
Professional Caregivers & Care Organisations
Professional homecare organisations are the third target group of VictoryaHome. Together with family and friends, they can use VictoryaHome to keep an eye on the senior. They are able to respond within seconds when needed, or stay in the back when seniors and their family are managing well.
Therefore, VictoryaHome includes an online dashboard for response centres, showing emergencies like falls or missed medication. In response to such an emergency professional caregivers can use the social robot to make a virtual visit. Because family and friends are able to assist in a meaningful way, this reduces the pressure on professional care organisations and associated cost of the organizations’ care processes.
A personal story
Ingrid and Mikael have been together for over 60 years. They are both in their late 80’s and live in their own home in Sweden. They have two children, Björn and Helen who are both around 60 years old, and who moved away from Sweden many years ago. In fact, Helen lives in South Africa with her family and Björn lives in Fiji, in the South Pacific Ocean. Because of the great distances they only visit Sweden once a year.
Ingrid is still quite healthy for her age both mentally and physically, and is mostly able to take care of their home with some outside help from home care services provided by the government. Mikael however, is now in the intermediate stage of Alzheimer’s disease, and although slowly, his condition grows worse. He is still able to perform most daily activities on his own but requires more and more frequent supervision. Ingrid is the primary caregiver for her husband. Overall, the situation is stable at the moment, but everyone involved in the care of Mikael and Ingrid have growing concerns. Ingrid very much wants to remain living at home because she has many close friends in the neighbourhood, and wants to continue caring for her husband. But this task becomes more difficult every day.
The municipality clearly understands the economic benefit of having Ingrid as a “free” caregiver and takes measures to protect her own health. In fact, they take Mikael to a short-term care home 2-3 days per month, to give Ingrid a break. This helps Ingrid but disorients Mikael because he does not understand why he is being moved and often protests being in the care home.
In spite of this additional support for Ingrid, home care personnel observe that her physical condition is getting worse, because of the stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. They observe that she is having increasing difficulty taking care of the home, and that Mikael needs more and more supervision. As a result, they have recommended to double the number of their visits, and to add two days per month to Mikael’s stay in the care home. These services are required to keep Mikael at home, but of course they will greatly increase the monthly care costs.
Björn and Helen worry every day about the health and safety of their parents, and feel quite some guilt that they cannot be a part of their care. They use the phone to stay in touch with their mother, and Ingrid greatly enjoys talking to her grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. But because of Mikael’s condition, he is unfortunately no longer able to understand the phone as a communication tool.
Their doctor is also worried about their health. He has prescribed a new combination of medications for Mikael that he believes will slow down the Alzheimer’s symptoms, but the pills must be taken according to a strict schedule and he has observed that Ingrid is having increasing difficulty monitoring Mikael’s medication schedule.
Everyone – the municipality, the children and the doctors – realize that the current situation is not sustainable, either economically or in terms of safety and quality of life for Mikael and Ingrid. Given this situation it will soon be time to move Mikael to a full-time care home with a dementia care unit. The location of the nearest facility is far away, so it means Ingrid will only be able to visit her husband once per week at most. The transition will clearly lessen the quality of life for both of them, but it will be the only way to keep Mikael safe and protect Ingrid’s health as well.
The municipality learned of the new VictoryaHome service that provides the tools to create a social care network around a person living independently at home. They then decide to offer this service to Mikael and Ingrid as an alternative to moving Mikael to a nursing home.
At the centre of this service is a mobile telepresence device called Giraff that stays in the home. The Giraff allows caregivers to virtually enter Mikael and Ingrid’s home via the Internet at any time, and move around freely, just as if they were physically there. With high-quality audio and video it is easy for them to communicate with Mikael and Ingrid and check out the home as well. When they tried Giraff in the home for the first time they were also greatly pleased to see that the “social gestures” possible with the Giraff – nodding its head up and down, turning side to side, “sitting” at a table or bedside, and of course the physical movement – enabled Mikael to understand that this was a real person. In fact, the first person to visit their home via Giraff was their son Björn, connecting from Fiji, and Mikael’s face immediately lit up as he recognized his son.
It is easy for family and carers to make a visit via the Giraff. Helen, for example, simply runs the Giraff application from her computer at home, logs in and connects to the Giraff. She moves around by just moving her mouse on the video image, and the Giraff follows the mouse – even when in South Africa! And the best part of all is that Mikael and Ingrid do not have to do anything except press a button to answer the call. The visitor does everything else, undocking from the charger, moving around and docking again. All the while, Mikael and Ingrid can relax in the living room or kitchen and take the visit just as they would receive someone in their home.
The Giraff also serves as an information hub for Mikael and Ingrid, connecting them to other capabilities of VictoryaHome. For example, each caregiver has a smartphone application that allows them to “check in” when they are available for a visit. Now, when Mikael or Ingrid need help – or just feel like some company – they only have to touch the Giraff and its screen will show them a picture of everyone who is available to visit. They can then touch any contact and that person will receive an alert on their smartphone indicating that Mikael or Ingrid have asked for a visit. From Mikael and Ingrid’s perspective it is as if all their family are just next-door!
But there is much more that VictoryaHome can do. It can provide alerts when it is time to take medication, so that caregivers can enter the home via Giraff and remind Mikael or Ingrid. The Giraff can even carry the medication to them, and the smart pillbox tracks when pills have been removed and reports this information back to VictoryaHome. Now Björn and Helen can help with supervising the medication, they are greatly relieved to be part of the care process, and the home carers do not have to make as many visits.
VictoryaHome also supports a fall detector that Ingrid can wear. If she should fall, the detector will alert the VictoryaHome service centre, where someone will see the alarm and can immediately enter the home via Giraff to see what is happening. They can reassure Ingrid if the fall is not serious and call for help if it is. And now, instead of going to the doctor’s office every few days, Ingrid can take her own blood pressure measurement with the help of a nurse who visits her via Giraff.
Finally with the VictoryaHome smartphone app, any family member or caregiver can see at any time that all is okay. A green indicator means all is okay, a yellow indicator that there is a situation that might require attention, like missed medication, and red means that something potentially serious has happened.
With VictoryaHome, the care situation changed dramatically. The doctor and his staff are now confident that both Mikael and Ingrid are taking the medication that is so important to their conditions.
Björn and Helen feel something now they have not felt in a long time: peace of mind. Even when they are not making a visit, just knowing they can check the VictoryaHome app or make a visit any time is a tremendous feeling of confidence for them. They no longer suffer from feelings of guilt because they are now a vital part of the care network.
Even Mikael and Ingrid’s friends can be part of the care process. They can check in, say hello and help keep Mikael connected to his world. They can even provide support for Ingrid as a caregiver based upon their own experiences in caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
The municipality also has much greater confidence now that Mikael and Ingrid are safe at home and still have a good quality of life. In fact, the home care staff recommend that not only they do not need to increase the number of days Mikael stays in the care home, but they can actually reduce it by a day. With the additional virtual visits provided by family and friends, they also do not need to increase the frequency of their own visits as recommended before. The monitoring service that VictoryaHome provides is also an important source of confidence for the municipality, and reduces the number of “false” callout visits where there is no urgent situation.
Most importantly, Mikael and Ingrid now enjoy a better quality of life. Mikael receives and recognizes more visitors, which keeps him better connected to his world and makes him happier. Ingrid has an increased sense of esteem because she is able to continue caring for her husband. She feels confident doing so with a little help from her care network, especially knowing that she can call out for help at any time and someone will immediately be there. Ingrid also greatly enjoys the more frequent visits from her distant family and even local friends. In fact, it adds an element of surprise to her life – when the Giraff rings she wonders, “who will it be?”.
With the VictoryaHome service, the municipality has managed to keep Mikael and Ingrid in their own home. The home care staff are confident now that they are safe, and the municipality is now saving well over €1000 per month. But most importantly, everyone understands that this is how Mikael and Ingrid prefer to live. The freedom to live your life the way you want is what VictoryaHome is all about. Be Well – VictoryaHome – Create Possibilities.