Becoming older and wiser can be a wonderful thing, but it also comes with health and mobility issues which can become a problem, particularly when someone is living alone.
These difficulties have been heightened over the past 18 months as we were faced with recurring lockdowns, with many people cocooning on their own during uncertain times.
To address this situation and to enhance the lives of older people living at home, last year HaloCare was established by the management team behind Netwatch in Carlow. And, says co- founder Niall Kelly, with the Covid situation still very much a concern, their high-tech systems have been invaluable to many users.
“With HaloCare, we use sensors and other technologies rather than cameras,” he said. “Our system helps to keep older people safe and well in the comfort of their own homes, keeps them out of care homes and allows them to live better for longer.
“Our high-tech devices can detect if someone has had a fall, if they have left an appliance on, are perhaps not following their usual routine or need help in some way. And rather than relying on wearable or clip-on devices which some might see as a hindrance or forget to put on, our systems are installed in the home, so the user and their families don’t have to do anything at all.”
As well as offering safety technology, the HaloCare system also has a range of clinical devices, designed in conjunction with medical experts, which can detect heart rate and blood pressure remotely. It can also monitor daily step rate, glucose levels and detect if someone is unsteady on their feet or has even forgotten to take their medication.
“When an elderly person is living on their own, it can be a worry for family members,” said Kelly. “If someone were to have a fall, they could be lying there for hours or even longer before getting assistance, but with HaloCare, we can intervene within minutes of such an event and alert the circle of care immediately. The system also takes note of the temperature in the house, so if it is too hot or too cold, we can also be of assistance.
“Hopefully, we won’t go into another lockdown but if movement outside the home is restricted, our technology also comes into play for someone who may feel isolated as they are also supplied with an ‘age-friendly’ iPad. This has a very simple layout, allowing the user to make and receive video calls so they can be in contact with their circle of care at any time. They can also look up newspapers, podcasts and TV programmes online.”
Along with the range of technologies designed to make it easier for elderly people to continue living at home, there is also a 30-strong team at the hub in Carlow, who are on hand to answer queries, offer support and provide help to users.
“There are always some members of staff, who all come from a background in care, either as nursing staff or people who have previously worked in nursing homes, available 24/7 who can talk to the elderly person, to reassure them or offer support as needed,” said Kelly.
The level of support offered through this system is designed to make life easier and better for elderly people and their families and with this in mind, packages start from €8 per day.
“It is a bespoke solution which we design around the needs of the individual – and we rent it rather than sell it to the customer,” said the co-founder. “The service will be monitored as time goes on and people’s needs change as it may need to be updated with elements added to it, but the price will include devices, technology, broadband and all communication – the family don’t have to do anything at all as it is provided by us as a complete package.
“When we established this last year, we did so with an investment of €6 million which we raised through our business network. And now we want to go for EIIS as we have used it successfully in the past and have found it to be a great source of funding. It gives investors the chance to get involved on a tax-efficient basis and we have had investors from the related medical and geriatric fields, as it is an area they would have an interest in. And from our perspective, they will bring expertise to the table, so we class it as smart money rather than just an investment.”
Kelly says the innovative Carlow-based company wants to raise funds through EIIS for future growth which would include e-technology, software platforms and new devices as they are developed.
“We have developed our Aura Software which powers our system and allows us to integrate the best hardware on the market into our platform,” he said. “We are looking to develop the predictive capabilities of our Aura Platform, so in theory if we have the data, we could predict something which might happen due to step count, motion and more, and intervene, which would in turn make life safer for users.
“So that predictive element is very important, and our investment will be in software, building algorithms and collaborating with best partners worldwide to develop this and ensure people continue to get the best out of their lives, while living at home.”