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Opportunities in Aged Care

 

As the baby boomers’ generation are reaching retirement age, developed countries are experiencing a key social demographic change. In Australia, the fastest growing segment of the population are those over 65, with a predicted increase from 2.5 million in 2002 to 6.2 million in 2042—growing from 13 to 25 per cent of the total population1.

An ageing population has specific needs that intensify with age. Most Australians typically downsize their home as a large house becomes too burdensome to clean and maintain once their children have moved out. Often, downsizing involves a move to a retirement village where retirees are still able to live independently—albeit with solutions in place to make their lives more convenient and comfortable—and where it is easier to maintain an active social life.

However, when individuals lose their independence and require ongoing care—which might arise from degenerative conditions or as a result of an accident such as a fall—they will commonly move into an aged-care facility or nursing home. These establishments cover a broad spectrum of services to cater for the widely differing needs of different people, from those who need minor help with daily activities to high-level palliative care.

Elderly independence

To meet the imminent needs of an ageing population, the Australian Government is addressing the chronic shortfall of places currently available in aged-care facilities by encouraging people to live independently for as long as possible, while promoting the building of new facilities or renovations of existing establishments, and the training of more staff. Anticipating this increased demand in the aged-care sector, Legrand has acquired a number of leading aged-cared solutions providers in recent years and consolidated their offerings into a cohesive and comprehensive portfolio—from products to promote independent living, through to solutions designed for nursing-home environments.

To help the elderly maintain their autonomy at home, Legrand has introduced its ‘Como’ family of electrical solutions, which features big switches that are easy to see and manipulate. The range includes sensor-activated switches for those with limited hand flexibility, and skirting lights to offer movement-activated ‘light paths’ to improve visibility and prevent falls at night.

Como further includes options for emergency safety lighting integrated with wall switches, which can provide several hours of light during power outages. With 70-80 per cent of hospitalisations for the elderly occurring as a result of falls—and as falls frequently results in the requirement for ongoing nursing care—the Como range is helping the elderly stay independent for longer.

Staying connected

Also designed for use in private homes, Legrand’s ‘Tynetec’ personal emergency response system features a Telstra 3G mobile card in a central unit, paired with an emergency button on a wristband or pendent. Once this button is pressed, the central unit is activated to make an emergency call. With an extremely sensitive microphone that can pick up the voice of the user up to 10m away, Tynetec is designed to facilitate a call for help. Typically, it will be configured to call a hierarchy of family or friends, but in a retirement village environment it can also be programmed to call the facility manager or even a 24/7 monitoring centre.

For the nursing home environment, Legrand’s ‘Neat’ nurse-call system comprises a wearable SMILE wristband for the resident/patient, a wall-call button, a pull-cord alarm, and a portable TREX unit for the care staff. Neat helps improve productivity, allowing fewer staff to care for more patients effectively. Moreover, with an automatic inbuilt data-logging function, the Neat system is invaluable in reviewing incident responses and for determining the amount of care each patient has received.

When a patient pushes the emergency button on the SMILE unit, it alerts to all the TREX units of carers in the area. The nearest available staff member acknowledges and accepts the alert on the TREX unit and confirms attendance when in the patient’s room. Neat also incorporates options specifically designed to track movements of dementia patients, generating alerts to the carers’ TREX units when they pass from one area into another.

Opportunities ahead

With solutions like Como, Tynetec and Neat, which are ideal for both new-build projects and renovations of existing establishments, Legrand is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading electrical solutions providers for the aged-care industry. In practice, the breadth of Legrand’s aged-care solutions portfolio allows electricians to be able to source all their electrical solutions from the same manufacturer, and enables developers to differentiate their projects by incorporating a complete package of age-appropriate electrical solutions to make everyday living easier for residents and to provide peace of mind for their family and friends.

As the Government embarks on meeting the expanding needs of an ageing population—building new retirement and aged-care facilities and renovating existing establishments—these solutions will play an increasingly significant role in helping older Australians remain independent for longer and enjoying a safer quality of life, both in their own homes and when they move into aged-care establishments.

While the impending aged-care requirements are a cause for concern for the Government, it also offers boundless opportunities for the building and electrician industries. With the current housing boom now on the decline, it has never been more important for these industries to identify the next growth area. Predictions show that the aged-care industry is it.

 

Tags: aged care, aged care facilities, electrical industry, electrical solutions, emergency response system, nursing home