A bedside device to help prevent elderly people falling by playing them messages from loved ones is about to begin its first large-scale trials in care homes.
The device named Bide has been designed by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Design Unit working with company Peak Medtek and is the brainchild of Dr Tom Adler, a family GP for more than 30 years.
One in three adults aged 65 or older falls every year, a statistic which increases to 1 in 2 of the over 80s. Up to 27% of these falls occur at night, often as a result of elderly people getting out of bed and too quickly.
Treating falls and fall-related injuries costs the NHS £4.6m a day, and fragility fractures cost the NHS and Social Care £4.4billion a year. Once a person falls over and injures themselves, they are more likely to need hospital care or extra support.
Bide works by sensing movement of the person, or a change in the light. This triggers a pre-recorded message to start playing reminding that person to take their time getting out of bed, or any bespoke message to help that person remain safe. Messages can be recorded just like an answering machine and come from grandchildren, family members or carers.
Discussions with users has suggested that having a familiar voice advising the person to be safe is most effective. Bide also has a light function to provide a low-level light, and to provide a visual reminder to stay safe if they cannot hear the message because of hearing difficulties.
Starting in April, Bide will be trialled more formally via a Real World Validation project in care homes across Sheffield, after a smaller pilot in a single care home coincided with a 100% reduction in fall rates in 2 frequent fallers. Bide has also been used in individuals’ homes where elderly people have said that it has helped them feel more secure, and a research project will also soon be starting in individuals’ homes in Nottingham.
Dr Adler, who began Peak Medtek Ltd to develop his idea, said: “We are very excited about these independent research projects.
“We deliberately wanted a very simple device that was intuitive and which did not make people feel that it was too complicated to use.
“The Design Unit has been very helpful in working with us to come up with a design that works for elderly people. It’s taken a long time to get here, we have done a lot of research and developed many, many different iterations but we are delighted to be in this position now.”
The challenge for the Design Unit team was to create a product that was capable of being triggered accurately, providing a good quality audio message and in a design which worked for the frail and elderly.
Posted on Monday 20th March 2023