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Supporting Unpaid Carers through Technology : Neil's Story


Tendertec has worked with the Connected Places Catapult and the University of Brighton to understand how we can support unpaid carers and help them build resilience in the caregiving role through technology.


Today there are over 11 million people aged 65 and over in the UK. In 10 years’ time, this will have increased to 13 million people. And, with the population ageing rapidly, the number of people at risk is growing at an alarming rate. As a result, it is expected that the need for care at home will increase.

Carers UK estimates that there are 11.5 million people across the UK who give unpaid support to someone who is elderly, seriously ill or disabled. By doing so, unpaid carers are saving the Government £193 billion a year.

Many carers don’t see themselves as carers and it can often take them time to acknowledge their role as a carer. Recent research has  shown that several carers reported feeling out of control in their daily life, lonely and detached from society and want support for their own issues. 


Through the Connected Catapult’s Homes for Healthy Ageing programme, Tendertec set out to test its care support platform, Hestia, in real life home settings with unpaid carers at the Brighton and Hove council area. We have sought to understand how Hestia can support unpaid carers and enable them to build resilience in their caregiving role.

A snapshot of demand for adult social care in 2018/19 indicated that there are over 23,000 unpaid carers in Brighton & Hove. Nearly 2,000 of them maintained their caring role while also leading a life outside of their caring responsibilities.   

Along with the University of Brighton and the Connected Places Catapult, we worked with unpaid carers to shed a light on their lives, their concerns and struggles.

Dr. Theo Fotis, Reader at the School of Sport & Health Sciences, University of Brighton, said, “Whilst we know from existing research, the benefits of digital health technologies for patients and health professionals, evidence regarding other sectors i.e social care or in the society in general are scarce. This collaborative project demonstrated that technology could serve also as a compassionate ally, empowering unpaid carers like Neil to strengthen their resilience and navigate the challenges of caregiving with newfound support.”


Older man with sunglasses laughing
Neil is in his 60s and he is the sole carer for his wife. Neil is retired only a couple of years ago so that he can be her full time carer.
Not too long ago, Neil’s wife experienced a stroke, causing her severe aphasia. This means that it is difficult for her to communicate on a basic level which makes his caring sometimes quite difficult. He feels that he needs to be near her all the time and feels guilty that there isn’t more that he can do.
Neil reported that more recently his wife has been trying to do things more independently however, she ended up having accidents. As Neil explained, there are times that she wouldn’t tell him if she had a fall as she’d feel embarrassed about it. Only by finding out the bruises days later, he would know there was an incident and they’d talk about it. He didn’t think he would be worried about her in this way as much as he does now.
For Neil having help in understanding what might be going on would assist him to communicate better with his wife and support him in his caring journey. As Neil reported, the most important things for him are the safety and security of his wife. He worries most when he is not around, compared to when he is with his wife.

"I'm just trying to avoid getting ill myself which is the worst case scenario.".

- Neil

Tendertec’s Hestia is an AI care decision support platform using machine learning and heat sensing to perform 24/7 hidden risks audit of missed hazards and early symptoms, without wearables and without needing any interaction from elders.

Hestia’s unique prevention and care insights help carers identify hidden risks at home and give them reassurance that their loved one is keeping well and safe by:

  • allowing carers to connect and check-in anytime & anywhere,

  • receive alerts and reconstruct missed incidents to understand why and how they happened,

  • flag risk behaviours even when they are not present.

Over the 12 week testing at the testbed in the Brighton and Hove area, Hestia delivered new insights that can support the mapping of unpaid carers’ valuable contribution as well as the impact that caring has on their lives and wellbeing.



Supporting carers in identifying hidden risks

There is no doubt that all carers need support to enable them to provide better care to their loved ones while at the same time looking after their own health and mental wellbeing. For Neil, being able to have some time to exercise, or get out of the house to do activities he used to without guilt is something that would improve his wellbeing.

As Neil mentioned, “I’m just trying to avoid getting ill myself which is the worst case scenario.

According to Carers UK, 23% of carers reported that available services not meeting their needs is a barrier to accessing support. Many carers feel that they do not receive good quality support from services. Some feel that services are often short-staffed due to sickness or problems with staff retention, therefore there is inconsistency in the support provided. While others feel that organisations do not provide compassionate or sensitive care. 

Long waiting lists in the NHS and concerns surrounding the quality of support adds even more stress and impact negatively the wellbeing of unpaid carers. Carers report that they are losing trust in the social and health care system. They feel uncertain about how they can cope with the burden of caring, costs of living crisis and this is affecting more and more their mental and physical health.

Our AI care support platform, Hestia, provided Neil with confidence and better understanding of the risk areas around the house, and the reasons behind fall incidents. Hestia’s insights made him more alert of his wife’s behavioural patterns when he is not around. More specifically, using Hestia, Neil was able to identify that the highest risk area in the house was the hallway. In addition, with the help of the Hestia app, Neil gained visibility of incidents that otherwise his wife wouldn’t communicate to him. And as a result, Neil was able to have informed conversations with his wife about what matters most.

"I'd really like a product that can help me understand what the risks are, or tell me what might have really happened... it really helped me feel more confident."

- Neil
Better overall mental wellbeing
For Neil these days safety means being around his wife 24/7 as he is worried when he is not with her. Having something in place that can help him communicate and understand what is going when he is running errands, would be great support.

Since his wife’s stroke, they have been more house bound and can no longer enjoy the things they used to do together such us exercise, hiking, getting out of the house, or going on holidays and trips. This has affected his mental health and wellbeing.

Hestia’s insights gave him access to hidden risks and incidents, enabled him to have meaningful conversations with his wife to understand how to help her better, and helped him feel safe when leaving he house. As Neil said, “It’s really helped me feel more confident – getting enough exercise is really important to me.
Effective communication & improved care delivery
One of the challenges carers face on a day to day basis is difficulty in communication between them and their loved one. This is due to the lack of visibility and informed check-ins. Hestia bridges this gap by giving carers control, support and visibility to hidden risks and incidents.

As Neil’s wife is suffering from aphasia, accessing data that can explain certain falls was extremely useful. He usually is unable to understand where and when a fall may have occurred but with Hestia, he was able to determine what may have happened. Hestia has helped Neil alleviate some stress that he feels towards the guesswork he has to do sometimes with his wife.
Hestia provided me, as a carer, with a unique insight into potential danger points around our home and the times of day when incidents were most likely. This has enabled me to monitor my wife’s activities and try to mitigate potential issues before they happen. The video reconstruction picks out potential issues and then enabled me to “teach” the system by picking out real incidents. Hands down the best solution I’ve seen to follow the person you are caring for every moment of the day. The sensors picked up a fall I was not aware of and I was able to have an informed discussion with my wife to help prevent any similar incidents from happening again.”, stated Neil.

“Hestia provided me, as a carer, with a unique insight into potential danger points around our home and the times of day when incidents were most likely."

- Neil
Man helping wife drink tea

Hestia is here to support carers in their caring journey.

If you would like to find out more about how Hestia can support you and your loved one, visit: https://tendertec.org/unpaid-carers/

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