Editor’s Note: Sensara will be exhibiting in Booth 3150 at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting + Expo.

Dutch smart sensor technology company Sensara thanks a resident of RiverWoods, a continuing care retirement community in Exeter, NH, for its growing U.S. presence.

Bill, a resident of the CCRC, belonged to a resident / staff member task force there, convened in late 2016 to explore technologies and processes that could be used to improve residents’ lives. He saw a technology article in The Economist that included Sensara, an organization spun off from the government-funded Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The technology is designed to improve resident quality of life, safety and privacy.

“He was the first to reach out to us and say, ‘Hey, are you guys active in the U.S?’ ” Paul Ruijgt, Sensara business development director, told McKnight’s Senior Living. “At that point, we were not, but because of him we started the conversation.”

Sensara’s CEO visited a couple of times, Ruijgt said, “and then we really started the conversation with RiverWoods.”

Ruijgt and colleagues installed the Sensara architecture — server, radio frequency interfaces and motion and bed sensors — in October 2018 and then trained staff members on how to use it. Earlier this year, RiverWoods concluded a three-month trial of the technology at The Boulders, the newest of its three campuses, to determine the effect of the technology in the context of U.S. caregiving practices and RiverWoods’ standards for provision of care in assisted living and skilled nursing.

They learned:

  • 95% of caregivers said the technology helped prevent falls.
  • 92% of residents said their nighttime rest has improved since RiverWoods implemented the technology.
  • 8 of 9 residents said it increased their sense of privacy.
  • 56.4% of caregivers strongly agreed that the technology was easy to learn and use, and 43.6% agreed.
  • All surveyed caregivers said the technology provides easy-to-monitor health and safety notifications.

The system helps residents get a better night’s sleep, which can translate into a reduced risk of falls, Ruijgt said, because when caregivers check on residents at night in a traditional environment, the sounds and lights can wake residents. “The Sensara systems use motion sensors and a bed sensor that we place under the mattress and that listens to the heartbeat,” he said. Caregivers know whether residents are in bed by monitoring the technology without entering a resident’s room.

For residents who need it, specific alarms can be set that notify caregivers when a resident needs help.

The system also can help residents and staff members during the day, Ruijgt said.

Caregivers have a tablet and can tell whether a resident has visitors or is in bed, helping caregivers prioritize they tasks. Linda Thurston, director of health services, agreed.

“This study also improved workflow for staff, which enabled caregivers to spend more time with our residents,” she said.

“And because they do that, residents’ quality of life improves,” Ruijgt said.

RiverWoods plans to do additional research after the technology has been in use for a year in the community.

Outside of RiverWoods, Sensara is being used at an assisted living community in Michigan, and the company is in talks with other organizations as well, Ruijgt said.

And it all started with a resident.

“It’s a resident who found us and said, ‘Hey, this could be really helpful.’ So that is kind of special,” Ruijgt said.