Care charity to trial new smart socks with dementia clients
By David Wood | 24th January 2023
A charity supporting unpaid family carers and the people they care for across Gloucestershire is set to trial an exciting new product designed to support people living with dementia.
Crossroads Care Gloucestershire has partnered with business start up Milbotix to trial the innovative new 'smart socks' among its client base and with attendees of the charity's popular day clubs.
The smart socks can monitor and flag up any early signs of distress or agitation in the person wearing them, thus giving care support staff and unpaid carers time to deploy distraction techniques to ease and suppress any signs of anxiety or discomfort.
Unobtrusive sensors on the sole and ankle of the sock track the wearer's heart rate, sweat and motion levels, which are monitored using artificial intelligence.
As soon as the smart socks identify that the person's stress or anxiety levels are raised, an alert is automatically sent to the carer or care team via a free app.
Claire Smeeth, service development lead at Crossroads Care Gloucestershire, facilitated a focus group of key players in health and social care at the charity's new offices in Quedgeley.
Attendees, including Healthwatch, the Gloucester (Dementia) Education Team, The Orchard Trust, Whittington House Nursing Home, Gloucester Rugby Club, plus care staff all heard from Milbotix founder Zeke Steer.
Claire Smeeth said: "The smart socks and concept behind them were really well received by all the attendees, with everyone being really engaged and offering lots of insight and feedback to the founders.
"The smart socks are amazing and the potential is huge, especially if they can improve our clients' wellbeing.
"Sometimes other forms of wearable tech such as wrist bands or straps can add to a client's stress levels or draw unwanted attention to them. However, everyone wears socks so it is an ingenious product.
"Ideally we'd like to see as many of our clients with diagnoses of dementia wearing the socks as it will help to make life easier and less stressful for unpaid carers looking after them. We're certainly excited to be working with as many of them as possible to trial the smart socks in the coming months."
The app can also provide daily, weekly, and monthly real-time reports, which could be invaluable in identifying any patterns or triggers that can lead to someone's anxiety levels being raised. This will give care staff and unpaid carers important insight and help them change how they manage their time with clients if needed.
Milbotix founder Zeke Steer said: "Milbotix is delighted to be working with Crossroads Care Gloucestershire to develop the smart socks. Partnering with forward thinking organisations like CCG means we can hear the expert voices of people providing and receiving care.
"The smart socks were conceived from our team's collective and personal experiences of dementia, and we are committed to building a product that genuinely helps carers and improves wearers' overall wellbeing."
Development of the smart socks is being funded by Alzheimer's Society through the Accelerator programme.
If you would like any more information about the Milbotix smart socks pilot at Crossroads Care Gloucestershire, contact Claire Smeeth on 01452 302542.
Crossroads Care Gloucestershire has been providing vital respite breaks and additional support and services to unpaid family carers and people with care needs across the county for more than 40 years.
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