Backgrounder: Funding boost for CanAssist

The following is a BC government news backgrounder.

The wandering deterrent system:

  • The system was originally developed in partnership with Island Health, for a client with dementia who did not always realize when it was nighttime. Believing instead that it was overcast or foggy, the older adult would sometimes leave the home at inappropriate and unsafe times.
  • The system works by installing several screens in the residence to remind the client of the current time using a 24-hour clock and an image of the sun or moon.
  • Subsequent screens located in various points in the home, show messages or video recordings explaining why it is not appropriate to leave the residence at night. These messages can be modified to use specific examples that are more relevant to the client (e.g., It’s not safe to go outside now. The coffee shop is closed.) and can be recorded by different family members or caregivers.
  • These screens can also be combined with commercial alert systems that can detect movement at outdoor exits and can automatically send phone or text messages to family members or caregivers.
  • Other wandering-alert systems are available commercially but send alerts only as the person has already begun leaving the building. CanAssist’s system includes several layers of intervention designed to discourage people from wandering well before they leave their residence.
  • By reducing or eliminating occurrences of nighttime wandering, the Wandering Deterrent System can increase safety and independence, alleviate family members’ and caregivers’ concerns, reduce the need for costly overnight home support, and help people remain in their homes longer.

The phone-in monitoring system:

  • This system was originally developed to allow an adult daughter to leave home and check in remotely on her mother, who has dementia, without invasive monitoring equipment and costly subscriptions.
  • The system uses a basic landline, along with a small number of sensors. These sensors monitor the individual’s presence in various rooms and indicate if the door to outside opens.
  • A small base station connects to the phone, allowing a family member or other authorized caregivers to receive a summary of recent in-home activity.
  • To access this information, the family member or caregiver phones home. Before the phone rings, they enter a code. A summary of activity is relayed, such as: “Mom is in bed and has been there for 30 minutes” or “Mom is in the bathroom; her last activity was detected five minutes ago” and so on.
  • After this information is provided, the family member or caregiver can either press a key on the phone to be connected to the home phone or simply hang up.

The zero-gravity arm adaption:

  • CanAssist purchased a commercial device, typically used by assembly-line workers to reduce arm fatigue, for a client who could not move his arms because of a spinal cord injury.
  • The device attaches to the person’s arm to provide dynamic support throughout his natural range of motion. The device bears the weight of the person’s arm, while preserving freedom of movement.
  • For this client, CanAssist developed a sturdy and reliable custom mounting system on his wheelchair as well as a personalized arm support trough that comfortably holds the client’s forearm.
  • This adaptation enabled the client to eat independently and has had a significant impact on his quality of life.
  • This adaptation was provided through 2013 funding, but shows the variety of work CanAssist performs to meet their clients’ specific needs and support their independence.

Media contacts

Anne Tolson (CanAssist Communications Manager) at 250 721-8730 or 250 812-6309

Laura Heinze (Ministry of Health Media Relations Manager) at 250 952-1887

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Keywords: CanAssist, technology, adaptive technology, funding

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