John Whitehead demonstrating the benefits of the CareLink Advantage Med-Sure Stand.

John Whitehead, President of CareLink Advantage holding the Med-Sure Stand with Cambrian College President, Sylvia Barnard.

CareLink Advantage And Cambrian College Testing Technology To Help Seniors Live Safely and Independently At Home

For 12 weeks, 4 Cambrian Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) students will be conducting an important study that will test technology that may reduce health care costs and substantially improve Ontario seniors’ lives, and those of their caregivers, by helping seniors to stay safely in their own homes for longer periods of time.

Using a combination of technologies that include door contacts, motion sensors, bed sensors, medication monitors, remote-controlled video cameras, and an online monitoring program, CareLink Advantage, a Sudbury-based business, has been providing services that help seniors live at home, even with serious health challenges. Students will be testing the system with the help of 20 local seniors and their caregivers. Ten seniors will have the technology installed in their homes, and the other 10 will live in their homes without the benefit of this technology. The study will commence in January.

CareLink President John Whitehead said he is confident that his “made in Sudbury solution” will help Ontario seniors who want to live independently, because it provides caregivers with powerful tools to perform their roles with less stress and anxiety. This reduces caregiver burnout, which is a major reason why many seniors are moved to a higher level of care. “The idea for this technology started when my mother was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease,” explained Whitehead. “She wanted to stay in her home, but caring for her was taking a toll on my siblings and my family. Now that we’ve refined the technology, we’ve been able to improve lives, save healthcare costs, and allow seniors to live in their own homes, where the majority of them prefer to be.”

Whitehead says the technology has been proven effective in other provinces, reducing public healthcare costs. “CareLink Advantage has already helped families across this country to keep their loved ones living independently in their own homes longer,” he explains. “The end result has been a reduced demand for assisted living services and for long-term care beds, and in some cases, a reduction in the demand for alternate long-term care beds.”

The government of New Brunswick fully funds the service; the government of Alberta has completed a pilot project and is working on funding models; and a pilot project is underway in British Columbia with the intention of funding CareLink Advantage services in that province. Whitehead hopes that the Cambrian study will prove the effectiveness of the technology to the province of Ontario, so that our government will fund the service.

Cambrian President Sylvia Barnard said the collaboration with CareLink is one of dozens that the College has on the go right now. “Applied Research at Cambrian is showing remarkable growth since the opening of our Xstrata Nickel Sustainable Energy Centre,” she explained. “With new labs to conduct research, and a team to manage projects and create collaborative partnerships, our faculty and students are engaged across the College in projects that vary in size and scope.”

Cambrian’s research with CareLink Advantage is supported by $30,000 in funding from the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII). “This partnership is another example of what CONII does for its 23 member colleges, business, and students,” says Executive Director Vanessa Williamson. “Colleges have the expertise, technology, and facilities that many innovative businesses rely on to conduct research that can solve practical problems and help bring their products to market. This project is very exciting because the outcome is expected to help families and seniors who need help living safely in their own homes.”

Applied Research at Cambrian College
Applied research identifies, tests, and finds practical solutions to improve processes, systems, technologies, and tools used in any industry or service. Cambrian’s Department of Planning and Research advances College, industry and community problem-solving capabilities through applied research projects and services that involve research grant submissions and project management; strategic partnership development; technology and intellectual property transfer; and the generation of new knowledge for the betterment of our community.