As a physiotherapist I have worked a lot with families facing the reality of functional decline. When I worked in hospital I thought I understood it but now I work out in the community in people’s own homes I have been educated!
One of my biggest concerns is closing the door at the end of a physiotherapy session, and not knowing how things are until I return for the next appointment. The team at Howz recognise that this is the case for many families, especially those who do not live close to their relative. This is how we came up with the idea for Howz.
Jonathan Burr our CEO developed an idea about the use of electricity monitoring to build up an understanding of daily routine, and provide feedback on general activity around the home. This idea has been developed over the last year and the product is now in testing in homes.
We have added the use of sensors to the system, these record light, temperature, and movement of the sensor itself and so they provide valuable information when placed on the main entrance and fridge door as an example
In one of our homes we have a sensor placed on a stairlift in one house which is very reassuring to know that the person has made it downstairs in the morning. The information is filtered through to an app which provides a timeline of activity in plain English rather than lots of charts which may be difficult to interpret.
As a team we also work with the NHS on a number of projects including the frailty project with South Manchester
We have worked with a local group called Manchester Carers Forum on developing a website with useful advice about the impact of frailty and what can be done about it. This goes alongside a Frailty Checkup which is used in community groups to help identify where changes could be made to improve quality of life.
This work has been invaluable to us as we get a better understanding of the issues faced by older people, and we are using this to develop the support around Howz. We very much view Howz as a service rather than a product, and we are working with our early testers to get the messages within the app just right.
From our work so far it is clear that a lot of people who are providing support to older relatives or to their spouses do not view themselves as carers. If you are providing care to someone I would urge you to look into support available in your area.
For the person you care for they may be eligible for a personal care budget which provides an opportunity to buy in care that works for the individual and is controlled by them
Age UK have some fantastic resources around this issue. It is so important that those of us looking after older people with functional decline are able to enjoy our time with them and not lose our quality of life. Getting help is one way to achieve this goal.