Joe Tibbetts is the CEO Boilerhouse Media Group and managing editor Healthcare Innovation Monitor. Joe has advised many government, NHS and commercial healthsector organisations on digital communications


Internet of Things - sensors and wearables combine to provide a simplified and more effective system of social care

Hellen Bowey, Co-founder of Alcove and Leila Hill, Regional Business Manager for East Thames Housing Association talking to Joe Tibbetts at the ADASS Care Apps Showcase in November about the Alcove monitoring and remote alert system which promotes independence for elderly and disabled users whilst also making social care provision more manageable and cost-effective.

The pressures of an aging population is an ongoing challenge to social care infrastuctures that are having to do more with increasingly smaller budgets. Technology and the benefits of digital transformation offer a way of satisfying both of these opposing dilemas.

Alcove is already using Internet of Things, wearables, sensors and software installed on a carer's mobile devices to empower disabled and elderly service users whilst simultaneously making care more efficient, manageable and precise. The service that Alcove provides aims to keep those in need of care in their own homes, offering an alternative to costly and inefficient traditional methods of residential care that can also mean that the individual pose risks sacrificing independence and becoming institutionalised in a care facility.

Interviewed at the ADASS Care Apps Show in November 2015, Hellen Bowey, Co-Founder and Director at Alcove, explains that the service is essentially a data aggregation platform with an alerting engine behind it. Thousands of data points are collected by installing sensors around a service user's home which can then map out what an average day would entail. If, for example, it appears that someone has not got out of bed or has not opened their their refridgerator by a certain time, alerts can be sent out to the appropriate carers or family member.

Leila Hill, Regional Business Manager of East Thames Housing Association, offers her perspective as one of Alcove's clients. She describes the system as "proactive" compared to more reactive and traditional care systems like alarms which are used when a service user requires assistance. By anticipating potential problems and providing useful and relevant data on demand, Alcove's system of care provides valuable reassurance to family members and ensures that care workers can organise their time more effectively.

Technology that is installed in someone's home can also gather information such as room temperature, which can then help social workers and carers make more effective and informed decisions based on hard data. The effects of gathering and utilising data of this kind results in more efficient care for users and providers.

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