Sensors in the home

Page last updated: 26 April 2022
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At the heart of this system is fixed and wearable sensors linked to a home hub.

The sensors can be attached to different items, including plugs to show usage of a kettle, TVs or other electrical devices that could flag unusual behaviour patterns. They can also be attached to beds, showers and doors, which could monitor unusual or even a lack of activity on front doors or fridges. These can be signs of mental or physical issues. The system can pick up risk of dehydration, mobility and falls.

As well as monitoring activity - or lack of activity - that could raise an alert, the data from the sensors is gathered on a secure platform. MySense then learns behaviour patterns and can quickly identify declining health or immediate care needs. Indicators of concern or patterns of behaviour auto-update the individual’s status. In this way, the system is personalised for the user.

This cumulation of data and associated notifications should help minimise the need for alerts generated by emergencies. The notifications provide opportunities for responses before critical situations arise.

Providers see notifications on a single screen dashboard that shows the status of all users. Summaries can also be seen by using a smartphone app. Alerts are sent via SMS or email, and responses are logged.

Notifications are provided with the consent of the person being monitored, or people who are authorised to give consent on their behalf. That consent also sets out the type of notification that is seen by different people, such as the organisation providing the care, a family member or someone who is nominated as a first responder in the case of emergencies.

How was it developed?

MySense developed the system with Reigate and Banstead Council. This enabled the company to build on feedback it had gathered from the public and engage with older people and their families. This provided views on how to deploy the technology.

An advisory board includes a GP, a social worker and an allied health professional.

Who is using it?

One of the organisations testing the technology is Leonard Cheshire. Steve Tyler, director of assistive technology, says the system offers the immediate information needed if there is an emergency. A real benefit is in the way the system analyses data, which can identify trends and issues that are not obvious and help prevent crises and trigger conversations about unusual patterns of behaviour that could indicate underlying health problems. He says the technology is easy to use for staff and residents and is not intrusive. He thinks it can provide “an added level of guardianship”.

Swindon Borough Council has also been piloting MySense since January. Martin Micenec, -n-house provider service manager, says he can see the potential of the system, particularly in reducing hospital admissions. Although it is too early in the pilot to assess the full impact on people it is providing helpful information. He sees its main value in supporting elderly and vulnerable people living in the community and thanks to sophisticated MySense algorithm that picks up a pattern of decline and subsequently alerts the nominated responders, it promotes an early intervention of care needs before they escalate.

The use of MySense was noted in CQC’s March 2019 inspection of Swindon’s Fessey House, which was rated good: ‘The service had a holistic approach to assessing, planning and delivering care and support. They looked for and encouraged the safe use of innovative and pioneering approaches to care and support, and how it is delivered. New evidence-based techniques and technologies were used to support the delivery of high-quality care and support. For example, the service was taking part in a pilot project called MySense which used technology to maximise safety to people whilst they were at the service as well as when they went back to their own homes.’


MySense comments that users have been reporting a feeling of control of their care, an increased involvement of family members and longer spells with no hospital admission than they've seen before. Some of these metrics require population level control groups and can be very difficult to measure, so the company is partnering with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and University College London Hospitals across some of its council contracts.

However, the company says an early trial showed an average decrease in formal packages of care by seven percent following installation of MySense. That is about a one-hour reduction in a 14-hours per week care package.

Driving improvement through technology

This case study is part of a series that highlights examples of innovative ways of using technology in care settings.

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