Mobility and Safety

Telecare: Technology For Aging In Place

Aging in place is the hope of virtually every senior, and the source of worry for many of their adult children. Seniors might be fully functional for a long period of time and then, almost imperceptibly, they might start needing a little help with their activities of daily living, whether it’s remembering to take their medicine or answering the phone when you’re calling to see if they’re OK. You’d like to find someone to watch them 24 hours a day, while they might not want anyone in the house.

One way to give you peace of mind and provide as much (or as little) monitoring as needed is a new telecare system called Rest Assured®. Developed as a joint venture between ResCare, a leading name in senior facilities, and the Wabash Center of Lafayette, Indiana, in collaboration with the Purdue University School of Technology, Rest Assured® is a patented web-based telecare system—real time elder care monitoring with two-way communication.

Broadband wireless technology is used to link the senior’s home to a central monitoring center. Benefits include home safety and security, quick access to support when needed, weather alerts…and continued independence with just the right amount of oversight. Seniors are able to stay in their home, maintaining their independence while maintaining their privacy, health and safety.

How Rest Assured Works

The Rest Assured® telecare system supports seniors who might benefit from or actually require on-site help yet want an alternative to 24-hour, live-in support. It is also designed for those with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities. Telecare is made possible through the creative use of an interactive, web-based system that uses electronic sensors, speakers and microphones, telecams in common areas, smoke detectors, temperature detectors and personal emergency response systems; there’s even a monitored security system to protect from intruders. “Screening and assessment tools help care agencies, providers and family members decide if a senior will benefit from telecare services.” These devices link each individual home to remote staff caregivers, or Tele-Caregivers, who provide electronic support. Should an individual need assistance, a Tele-Caregiver is immediately available to assess the situation and provide supportive prompts.

In most situations, the Tele-Caregiver can manage the situation. If necessary, an on-call person can be dispatched to provide quick on-site assistance or emergency services may be contacted. The basic model includes a two-way speakerphone that automatically connects the client with a Tele-Caregiver at the push of a button. It also includes a pendant style alert button or a fall sensor (worn on a belt) with an alert button; the fall sensor detects falls and alerts the support center to call for help automatically.?

Once the Rest Assured system is installed, authorized users with a PC or Mac and an internet connection can log into to virtually visit their loved one and see all services provided. Access is instant, making it easy to stay in touch. The two-way visual and audio communication system lets family members and other authorized third parties chat with seniors or on-site caregivers, see any sensor-activated alerts, view the Tele-Caregiver’s client chart notes, and update client protocols.

Setting Up A System

Screening and assessment tools help care agencies, providers and family members decide if a senior will benefit from telecare services. Customer-specific protocols, established by the senior’s health care provider or family member, help determine what level of support an individual needs. Each agency, provider or family member involved in the senior’s care fills out a detailed “protocol questionnaire” that addresses items such as demographics, living environment, access and egress, detailed contact information, kitchen capabilities, dietary restrictions, health status, medication and administration issues, personal safety, sleep habits and many other items.

These answers help define each senior’s individual ability so that the Rest Assured® system can be personalized to their needs and preferences. The Tele-Caregivers will be trained on those personalized needs so that they can provide the exact level and type of support required for each client. Design consultants will visit the senior’s home to determine the appropriate mix of sensors and cameras needed for elder care monitoring.? Installation and testing of the system are provided by a Rest Assured® technician as is the twice-a-year maintenance. ?

How Situations Are Handled

In most cases, when a client requires assistance, the Tele-Caregiver will be able to manage the situation remotely from the Rest Assured® virtual support and response center. However, if necessary, the Tele-Caregiver will communicate directly with the senior’s designated on-call staff person or family member (Rest Assured does not send out staff itself), inform that individual of the issue and dispatch the person to the proper location so that he or she can provide the client with on-site assistance.

The Rest Assured response staff will make sure that events requiring on-site support receive the right response and that each issue is resolved. For each Rest Assured® client, one or more on-call staff people or family members can be designated as responders in the event that the senior requires on-site elder care assistance. These responders can communicate directly with Tele-Caregivers at the Rest Assured remote virtual support and response center. “For accurate records, each step in the response process can be logged and annotated.” Of course, in the event of an emergency situation, the Tele-Caregiver will contact emergency services immediately.

For accurate records, each step in the response process can be logged and annotated, from the time of the first “alarm” triggered by a virtual support device in a client’s home or apartment to the telecare staff’s determination that on-site assistance is required, the dispatch of the on-call staff or family member, the arrival of the on-call staff and the eventual resolution of the event. The responding on-call staff or family member can dictate event notes to the Tele-Caregiver for the event record by telephone or by using the on-site real-time video connection. Documentation is done daily and can be shared with providers or family members. In addition, video images are stored for up to 5 days and can be downloaded if a review of an event is required. ?

More Rest Assured® System Services

Rest Assured® offers a variety of services to address a broad spectrum of elder care needs. ?? Virtual “drop-in” elder care support services provide assistance at scheduled intervals or certain times during the day, when your loved one may need help, such as when they’re scheduled to take medication. Using the two-way visual and audio communication system, Tele-Caregivers can provide wake-up calls, help with preparing meals, ensuring that clients take their medication, or assisting as they engage in other activities of daily living. Emergency watch services ensure a speedy response to emergency situations detected by Rest Assured® sensors.

When an emergency watch sensor in the home is activated or tripped by a specific event or by a condition such as the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide, an alert is triggered at the support and response center. Tele-Caregivers are available 24/7 to quickly communicate with emergency personnel and other contacts as directed. ?? Personal emergency response services (PERS) allow clients to summon help just by pushing a button. The Rest Assured® emergency alert system is user-friendly and designed to summon help when needed. With the push of a button or in the event of a fall or fire, the Rest Assured® emergency alert system instantly calls a Tele-Caregiver who immediately responds to the emergency.

Because medication mismanagement is a serious problem—errors in taking medication can lead to devastating consequences, Rest Assured® has incorporated an automated medication dispenser into its system. It can be pre-filled and programmed by a family member or caregiver with up to 30 days worth of medication. The device dispenses the correct drugs at the correct time and alerts the senior when it is medication time by emitting a beep and a flashing light. If the medications are not taken within the programmed time (the dispenser can be programmed for different lengths of time), the medication dispenser will call a Rest Assured Tele-Caregiver and/or a family member or caregiver who can then use the Rest Assured system to determine why the medications haven’t been taken and provide a gentle reminder.

Rest Assured’s next step will be to add telehealth services, like devices that measure blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen level, and even weight, among others. These devices will take and record vital statistics that will then be available to authorized family members, nurses, and physicians for review and preventative health care. Data will be graphed for easy review. Rest Assured services are sold by the hour with no minimum commitment for hours supported per day or days supported per year. This pricing structure gives you the flexibility to develop the best care plan that works within your available budget. To learn more, visit or call 877-338-9193.

- Written By

Julie Davis

Julie Davis is a food, health and wellness writer working within all print and digital formats. She has written over 50 books for readers of all ages, from best-selling women's interest titles in the areas of beauty, fitness and lifestyle to children's picture books. She currently writes for WebMD, the Cleveland Clinic Arthritis Adviser, the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club, Bottom Line Personal and Bottom Line Health. Her past work includes features for Walgreens “The Thread” blog, Everyday Health, Livestrong, Healthgrades and HealthDay where she also conceptualized and scripted a 1,000-video lifestyle series.