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A pioneering research project led by Edge Hill University is helping elderly people enjoy the freedom of independent living while reducing NHS costs.

The Department of Computing has worked in collaboration with security systems company Securcom Ltd to develop unique technology to create a picture of a person’s daily routine.

This new system constantly transmits sensory data from the home to a central monitoring station via the internet to show their movements. The subjects are monitored in a secure central control room on a 24/7 basis. This data is then analysed for anomalies or gradual changes in a persons’ usual activities to identify and predict when help may be needed.

Doctors, carers and named relatives will also have access to this data on demand using their mobile devices.

Besim Mustafa, Programme Leader for Mobile and Embedded Systems, said: “It is undeniable that people naturally prefer independent living, but with advancing age or disabilities this becomes risky when living alone and they often end up in sheltered housing in need of regular supervision and personal caring.

“To address these needs, we have been able to use our research expertise in modern computing power, communications technology and advancements in software developments to devise a new programme that will help those with disabilities and health problems to enjoy independent living. I believe our new system will have a significant social impact and fulfil our purpose to support the aging populations.”

This initiative will not only enhance independent living of those affected but will make significant savings in the cost of support to individuals provided by social services and the local authorities.

Besim added: “The number of people aged 60 and over in the UK is projected to increase from 12 million to 18.6 million, which is likely to impose increasing pressure on the resources of the social services and the local authorities. In the current economic climate it is more important than ever to develop a commercially viable product for the future to ensure we can help those who wish to maintain their independence and dignity as long as possible.”

The research has contributed to enhancing a new commercial product for the assisted living market that is helping local councils support elderly and disabled people in their care.

The team are next planning to concentrate on developing the technology in order to be able to accurately predict any future health-related problems of the monitored subjects.