Launch of Mitchelstown Age Friendly Sensors and Alarms for the Elderly Pilot Project
Cork County Council, in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, launched a challenge to improve the resilience of Cork County’s older population by exploring low cost and accessible solutions that could assist older citizens in maintaining a good quality of life in their own homes.
With the support of the Cork Age Friendly Programme, Mitchelstown was selected to pilot one such project. Mitchelstown is an Age Friendly Town and a committee chaired by Cllr. Kay Dawson worked with the partners to provide a ‘test-bed’ area.
The project is an innovative collaboration between social enterprise and community groups, led by Independent Living Ireland (ILI) and developed in partnership with Amicitia Social Enterprise, Cork City Partnership’s Friendly Call Cork, Nimbus Research Centre in CIT and Health Innovation Hub Ireland.
The pilot scheme installed sensors and panic buttons in the homes of volunteers in Mitchelstown. The sensors measured movement, temperature, heat and humidity and were connected wirelessly to a base station in the Forrest Hall Community Centre, in the main square of the town.
The project partners will review the results of the Pilot Scheme and may then offer a service to enable older and vulnerable people living independently in their own homes to be supported by both a personal Friendly Call service and one which responds to alerts raised by themselves or the sensors in their homes.
To celebrate the conclusion of this pilot scheme, an event was held at Forrest Hall Mitchelstown Community Centre today. Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD was on hand to take part in the celebration of this event which marked the start of Positive Ageing Week in Mitchelstown showcasing a number of exciting initiatives supporting older people through a busy week of workshops and exhibitions throughout the town.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey commented, “Cork County Council seeks out innovative, low cost and accessible solutions to help all of its older citizens to maintain a good quality of life and to enable them to remain and feel secure in their home. The SBIR challenge is a joint initiative between Cork County Council and Enterprise Ireland and a novel method of pre commercial procurement – it goes to the market with a question instead of a prescribed solution – enabling us to harness the ingenuity of innovative companies and develop unique solutions for the challenges faced by our older citizens. We are delighted to work with HIHI to deliver this project.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Christopher O Sullivan commended the scheme noting “As an Age Friendly Town Mitchelstown is an ideal candidate for this pilot scheme. We need to be constantly adapting to the changing needs of all of our citizens –to allow older people live as independently in their own homes for as long as they wish. This enables our older citizens to stay active in their communities and feel safe and secure in their homes.”
Enterprise Ireland’s Small Business Innovation Research Manager, Marguerite Bourke commenting on the Challenge, “Enterprise Ireland is delighted to collaborate with Cork County Council as part of the SBIR Ireland programme. The outcomes led by Galway company, Independent Living Ireland will ultimately result in better services for the elderly in the Mitchelstown community. The wider applicability potential for the innovation developed in this Challenge, both in Ireland and internationally, is a very exciting prospect.”
Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, commenting at the launch said, “Positive Ageing Week affords us all the opportunity to reflect on the significant and continuing role older people play in our communities. It is also an opportunity to consider how we can support older people’s independence, resilience and participation in the communities they have helped to develop over their lifetimes. As we can see today, this project is an excellent example of innovation which supports our older people as they age. This project is a testament of what can be achieved through collaboration at a community level with the right support nationally.”
Ms Jane O’Flynn, Health Innovation Hub Ireland and Cork Institute of Technology said “Working on this project has been very rewarding, it demonstrates how local communities can support our older and vulnerable citizens at home, using technology as the key enabler’.
Patrick Mulvihill, Independent Living Ireland commented: “The SBIR has been a great learning experience for our business. Helping us to research and develop emerging technologies and implement these with the support of vibrant community care organisations such as Friendly Call Cork and the Age Friendly Council in Mitchelstown. We look forward to building on this experience, growing our network and finding solutions to support older people living in communities throughout Ireland”.