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Summoning help in aged care made easy

A new nurse call device using ‘air bulb' technology is set to improve the lives of arthritic and disabled Australians, particularly those living in residential aged care, who may struggle to use current versions of the device.
The new pendant allows elderly aged care residents to safely and easily summon help by squeezing, pressing, or even rolling onto it, with any part of the body.
The new pendant allows elderly aged care residents to safely and easily summon help by squeezing, pressing, or even rolling onto it, with any part of the body.

The device is the result of a collaboration between Flinders University and University of South Australia industrial designers on behalf of the designers, Hills Health Solutions.

The pendant, which also glows in the dark, does away with buttons and hard clips, allowing users to safely and easily summon help by squeezing, pressing, or even rolling onto it, with any part of the body. It is expected to particularly assist the elderly and those with arthritis, who already cannot, or may not in the future, be able to ‘push’ buttons.

During the design phase, the design team visited South Australian aged care providers ACH Group, Eldercare and Helping Hand and worked with occupational therapists and rheumatology specialists to find out which shapes would work best.

Aged care facilities are reportedly required to modify existing devices to make them usable.

Associate Professor Sandy Walker, team leader, claims, as a result of aged care facility visits, they developed a method of activating the pendant which involved using the larger muscle groups in the arm, rather than the hand.

The many prototypes were made on a 3D printer at Tonsley, including 3D printed injection moulding tooling inserts, which means that multiples of the product can be produced for onsite testing in aged care facilities.

The team also designed a ‘soft shape’ clip with suction-cup and magnet that would allow the device to be attached to clothing, bedding and flat and metal surfaces.

“The old clips are sharp and angular, which meant they could damage or bruise an elderly person’s skin if rolled on,” Associate Professor Walker says.

“This is especially important for older people, as the thickness and elasticity of skin is reduced with age.”

When officially launched onto the market within the next six months, the nurse call device, which is yet to be named, can be purchased through Hills Health Solutions.

For more information about the new nurse call device, phone team leader, Associate Professor Sandy Walker, on 0422 092 563.

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