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Unobtrusive Camera-based Monitoring Keeps Residents Safe on Dementia Units
State-of-the-art units for people with dementia strive to give residents as much freedom of movement as possible. However, what happens if they experience a fall? What if they react to a situation they don’t understand by striking out or otherwise acting in a way that could be dangerous to themselves or others?
It’s up to staff members on the units to be watchful, but the fact is, they don’t have eyes in the backs of their heads. Much effort has to be exerted to ensure all residents are safe at all times.
Dr. Mohamed-Amine Choukou is exploring a novel solution to this issue. As a researcher who investigates uses of technology in health care, he is looking into how cameras could make dementia units safer for residents without jeopardizing their privacy.

The Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at University of Manitoba’s College of Rehabilitation Sciences is working on his idea with his research team. Using 3D depth cameras, the team is developing a software program that will identify types of movement, different objects in the environment and the location of the resident.

“We are programming the software to recognize many different movements – such as falling, tripping or lunging with a knife – by enacting and filming them,” explains Dr. Choukou. “The software will then recognize dangerous events and map the video data to look like stick figures without even using the video files. That way, residents are not identified.”

If the movement or object, or combination of movement and object ­(such as throwing a chair), is identified by the software as hazardous, the system would alert staff members, who can immediately investigate. The computer will record what, when and where the event happened for further investigation, such as discussing the incident with family members.

Riverview’s Alzheimer Centre of Excellence staff participated in focus groups led by Dr. Choukou to identify the need for such technology on the unit. The groups noted several potential benefits.
For staff, the ability to respond quickly to dangerous situations, while at the same time reducing their workload, means they would feel confident about the security of their residents. This would help to reduce stress and uncertainty.

For residents, the technology means that immediate help would be available should they fall, slip or react to the environment in a hazardous way. For families, knowing that their loved one is being monitored for safety and wellbeing would provide peace of mind. Once the technology being developed by Dr. Choukou’s team is validated, it will be piloted on Riverview’s dementia unit.: untitled post 321
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