HEALTH & SAFETY Flooring That Saves Lives

An interview with Palle Stevn, COO at MariCare, sheds light on the Smart Floor systems designed to improve care quality, and in some cases saves lives, by monitoring and relaying patient’s movements via an installed sensor system.

Smart technologies are quickly evolving processes that have been long-established in healthcare. As solutions become more readily available and affordable, nurses and care home staff are being given the tools to enhance the quality of life their patients receive.

MariCare is a Finnish manufacturer of the Smart Floors technology which has been designed in conjunction with professional nurses, and works through sensors that monitor and record how patients and residents in care homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centres move around the facilities day-to-day.

The sensors alert care home staff if a patient gets out of bed and walks to the bathroom, or in the worst case scenario can detect if a patient takes a fall. These prompts are communicated wirelessly to the nurses’ computers or smart devices, alerting them to any situations whereby a patient might require assistance. Alongside this instantaneous detection of potential emergencies, the system provides nurses with foresight that allows them to learn patients’ patterns of behaviour, which can in turn drive the implementation of new processes and practices in how they deliver care.

MariCare has been operating out of Helsinki since 2008 and currently offers two sensor technologies like the Smart Floor for use in care home scenarios including the Elsi® and the wireless eLea.

Customer Expertise MariCare has been highly active in attaining feedback that can guide its research and development.

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Speaking about the Smart Floor systems Palle Stevn, COO at MariCare, said: “We are in a continuous partnership with our customers. Since the Smart Floors first became popular in Denmark, we have established a working group consisting of ourselves and our customers, whereby we meet on a quarterly basis to discuss the challenges the customers face, and how we can work together to overcome them through healthcare technology.

“In addition to this, we have worked closely with universities and the Nordic Welfare Centre – comprising government representatives from all the Nordic countries – to carry out research and gather useful data. MariCare, government bodies, universities and customers are all learning from each other to improve both the product and standards of care.”

Lifesaver MariCare have embraced the knowledge of the end users to innovate improvements in the technology.

Stevn added: “Every two weeks or so, a customer calls me directly to say that the Smart Floor saved a life, which of course is extremely encouraging to hear.

“One nurse called me with a particular story. A lady in one of her apartments, who was in quite good shape, had fallen and hit her head on a sharp piece of furniture. She could not raise the alarm because it had knocked her unconscious and she began bleeding heavily. Of course, this was a critical situation.

“Fortunately, the Smart Floor detected and alarmed the fall almost instantaneously and the nurses

were quickly at the scene. Whilst they could not stop the bleeding themselves, it allowed them enough time to call for the ambulance to take her to hospital, stop the bleeding and save her life.”

The Smart Floor system also allows doctors and nurses to gain far greater insight into patient problems by analysing the residents’ behavioural patterns.

Speaking about the systems benefits Stevn continued: “The Elsi® Smart Floor was installed in a ward with 12 apartments at a brand new care home in France. I was there personally to oversee the commissioning after the system had been installed and the residents had been moved back in. The manager of the ward came to me and I offered to do a demonstration on my tablet through the system’s wireless.

“I played back the previous night’s activity from 11pm to 7am at x50 speed to show how the residents were moving around the apartment throughout the night – going to the bathroom, placing their feet onto the floor, or when they entered and exited the rooms. One particular room got my attention; it was occupied by an elderly lady who was going to the toilet two to three times an hour. For this lady, it was important she slept comfortably or she would be at high risk of falling the next day.

“Obviously, something was not right, but when the doctor and ward manager went into see her she said that she had slept the whole night. After taking a precautionary sample of urine, it turned out that she had a serious urinary infection that, if left undetected, could have killed her or

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