My mother passed last year and in my experience, I could not find a realistic use-case for using Lorawan that was better than what was already securely available.
One has to be careful of thinking that everything looks like a nail when the only tool you have is a hammer. In the end, Lorawan is just a means of communicating data and that is all it is.
Any care systems has to involve first and foremost consent from the elderly person. It also must involve constant manual input from other people.
Without constant attention from other people (such as a MDT team), even automated pill boxes are useless and very dangerous. A far better solution is a locked medicine box, which can only be opened by a care visitor, who also records the dosage. Even that solution has legal implications regarding a doctor then being put into a position where they may have to say that the elderly person is no longer mentally capable.
Here are some reasons why an automated pill box on its own is dangerous:
- There is no proof that the correct dosage of medicine was taken at the right time
- There is no mechanism to automatically report shortfalls in the case
- The drugs should be checked to see if out of date
- The drugs should be checked to see if they fit the current prescription (from hospital / nurse or doctor / locum?)
If one wants the best care for parents, the one thing above everything else to check first is that THE CARE RECIPIENT IS HAPPY WITH THE REGIME. I can’t stress this enough.
Consider how you would feel if someone said to you “Right, from now on you always have to wear this device, I don’t care if it is uncomfortable. You will also be listened to and video’d 24 hours a day until you die”
I could go on and on - but the biggest headache for me was having to ensure that correct communications were carried out amongst the different teams involved with my mother’s care e.g. when my mother was transferred from different parts of the NHS
- from doctors
- visiting nurses
- home care visit teams
- Meals on wheels
- Social workers,
- Hospital admissions
- Hospital discharges.
I found that any proper care system that you want for your mother has to involve the people above (called the MDT team)
Telecare was great for my mum and this gives more info on it
When you listen to it, consider where lorawan fits - I’d be interested to hear anyone say that the use of lorawan here was more suitable. I certainly didn’t see it.
I’m sure that GPS trackers is a great usecase, but I don’t see lorawan being used to replace the dedicated communication protocols that are already in place.
In the end, for elderly care, the telephone is the main part of the system - with the lines being manned 24 hours a day. The sensors connect with the telephone and when they trigger, (fire alarm, smoke alarm, bed sensor, temp sensor etc), the 24 hour care team member phones up and the telephone system now automatically answers and immediately acts as a loudspeaker. (thats the clever bit)
If the sensor is a “fall” indicator or “neck” pendant, the care team member calls out over the loudspeaker “Madame XXX, Are you OK?” This is to confirm if it is a false alarm or not. If nothing is heard, the paramedics are then called out. This happened many times with my mother and saved her life. The firebrigade got called out a few times as well.
As you can see, it is not the current data communication bit that is problematic - that works fine within the telecare system.
Not only that, but the telephone device health checks itself - if it can’t hear the sensors that have been assigned to it, it phones the call centre to say there is a fault.
Why would you implement a lorawan solution, where the data has to go all the way across the internet - when really all you need is for the data to go to the telephone device?
Another reason why using lorawan is mute, is that by basing the system around a telephone, broadband isn’t required.
The other thing is, if the person didn’t have a telephone, how would the 24 hour care team check if it was a false alarm or not ?
Consider that elderly people also like the idea of someone phoning them up.
Yet another thing is the system maintenance POV, the 24 hour care team can phone the system and interrogate the telephone device and “instruct” the sensors to ping back that they are OK - As we all know, downlink is not easily done with Lorawan, and that is the commercial deathknell for using Lorawan technology in health care - its just too damn costly to keep the care team waiting on the line when they are commissioning the system initially, waiting ages for Lorawan to ping the devices because of a fair usage scheme