Small chip to prevent dementia patients from leaving nursing homes

Small chip to prevent dementia patients from leaving nursing homes

In collaboration with Demens Centrum Århus, Tecsys has developed an RFID solution that prevents citizens with dementia from leaving their nursing homes unaccompanied. The system consists of RFID chips sewn into the dementia patients’ clothes and a number of RFID readers connected to the center’s locking system. This way, individual plans can be made for each citizen’s access to rooms and areas in the center.

People with dementia should not be locked up

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 1000 people with severe dementia stray from their care home every year. They can’t find their way home and it’s very serious for caregivers. This is unfortunate for the caregivers and can have life-threatening consequences for the person with dementia. The Service Act stipulates that it is not allowed to lock up people with dementia, and therefore the exit door must be left open.

“In collaboration with the IT company Tecsys, we are in a test phase where we are sewing RFID tags into the clothing of selected people. If the person with dementia walks towards the exit door, the chip is read and the door locks automatically for about 30 seconds. If the person with dementia leaves the ward, for example with the help of other residents, there is a reader on the other side of the door that sends an alarm to an app on the staff’s smartphones,” says Richard Nørskov, technical consultant for Demens Centrum Aarhus.

The chip is thin and can be sewn into clothing without the wearer noticing the technology. The new chip is washable and does not require a battery. The person with dementia has chips sewn into all sweaters and tops. This way, the antennas installed in the building can easily identify whether a person is allowed to leave the area or not. The technology is also used to ensure that the right people can enter their respective homes and not accidentally enter the wrong home. The system can lock a single door or give the person with dementia access to common areas or larger outdoor areas.

Safety technology and aesthetics

“The new chips are an aesthetic solution. You can’t tell by looking at the person with dementia that they are secured, as they don’t have to wear a bracelet or necklace like in older systems. It also means that the person with dementia doesn’t have a foreign object on them that they might remove as it confuses them. Our tests must prove that the new system is safe. This means that the chips in the garment are read every time. So far, it looks positive,” says Richard Nørskov.

A 12-week pilot project has been set up with selected individuals and staff to test the system. The test started mid-December and will run until mid-March.

“It’s a very promising solution. An event-driven system that collects, processes and routes incident notifications to the right mobile device, such as a smartphone. This gives the municipality a system that saves staff time and ensures that the resident is safe in the care home. It is an overall solution for the nursing homes, in which you can create individual solutions for each citizen and at the same time provide employees with a tool that collects reports on all incidents in one place,” says Richard Nørskov.

There are both technological and ethical issues that are important when introducing a so-called safety technology. It’s not about tracking people, it’s about caring for the person with dementia and avoiding unfortunate situations. This solution is almost invisible and there is no physical intervention or major inconvenience of wearing a chip in your clothes. Therefore, this solution strikes the right balance between the laws that protect people from abuse and the moral responsibility we have towards people with dementia.

If you would like to know more about the RFID solution, please contact Martin Wulff on +45 88 33 57 31 or martin.wulff@tecsys.com.

Read DR’s article about the solution: Read the news on DR.dk

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