FIT Homes project for falls prediction receives funding

A project aiming to develop a falls prediction system that can be installed in peoples’ homes has secured almost £100,000 from The Data Lab, a Scottish Innovation Centre with a focus on generating economic, social and scientific value from big data.

The project is being led by companies in the Scottish Highlands. Albyn Housing Society, Robert Gordon University, manufacturer Carbon Dynamic and NHS Highland are leading the project, which will collect data from sensors installed in specifically designed homes. The data will then be used to identify behaviours linked to an increased risk of falling.

The specifically designed ‘fit homes’ will act as a ‘test bed’ for the project. The homes have been co-designed by a variety of stakeholders including patients, clinicians, and potential tenants. Each home will contain multiple layers of sensors and smart resident interfaces to provide the fall data.

Falls currently cost the NHS over £2 billion a year with 4 million beds being taken due to fall related injuries. The system has the potential to help residents live well, prevent hospital admissions and enable early discharge.

Lucy Fraser, head of innovation at Albyn Housing Society said: “The central concept of these high-quality, sustainable homes is that they will include ambient, physiological and building sensors to collect data that can be monitored and responded to by a variety of agencies – potentially transforming the way health and social care is delivered.”

“Falls in particular are of great concern to vulnerable residents, their families and the health and care sector, given the growing impact they are having on services. So by looking at data surrounding areas such as dehydration, diet, the use of certain prescribed medication and levels of activity and social interaction, we hope to develop a means of using digital technology to enable families and agencies to intervene with preventative measures before incidents can occur. This could transform countless lives as populations across the globe continue to grow older.”

Professor Susan Craw, artificial intelligence expert at RGU leading this research said: “This exciting project is an excellent example of the ways that Artificial Intelligence is beginning to be used to assist and benefit individuals through applications with a social purpose. People now use wearable sensors and mobile apps to monitor their activities and provide advice for a healthy lifestyle. In this project we shall be using data from sensors embedded in the technology-enabled ‘Fit Homes’ to capture activities and behaviours within the home and provide alerts when these indicate an increased risk of falling.”

“This project builds on two leading-edge Artificial Intelligence technologies: recognising human activities from real-time sensor data, and understanding these activity profiles to find similarities with the behaviour of other people and to recognise changes in activity patterns. Alerts to the resident/family or healthcare professionals will be based on activity profiles and so are backed up by evidence from real-life behaviour. The system will learn from known precursors of falls but will also be able to discover new indicators of risk of falling. I am delighted that Artificial Intelligence is being used in this innovative project to support our ageing population and promote independent living.”

Gillian Docherty, CEO of The Data Lab, said: “Partnerships like this one help us to retain our home grown talent and help Scotland to cement its place as a leader in data science development worldwide. According to The Centre for Economic and Business Research Data, big data opportunities in Scotland will be worth £20bn over the next three years, so it’s important that we continue to challenge ourselves to generate economic, social and scientific value from this sector.”

The project, titled FIT Homes, is set to begin this May. It will include 15 new homes and one community space and is planned for Albyn Housing Society’s new site at Dalmore, Alness. A further 32 houses, including homes for veterans, will be built in Inverness and the surrounding area.

Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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