As the population ages, people are forced to make difficult decisions regarding the care of loved ones. The choice can become harder for many when memory loss and dementia are a factor.
When their new East Providence facility is complete, the staff at Tockwotton on the Waterfront will be using a new technology to ensure the best possible care of such residents. The $52.3 million, 156-bed nursing home on Narragansett Bay will be the first facility in Rhode Island to house the Vigil Dementia System, a silent electronic-monitoring system that relies on passive sensors rather than just call buttons and audible alarms to detect patient distress. The new facility is slated to open Dec. 15.
“Right now, if we have someone who we use alarms with because they’re a high fall risk, the alarm goes off and everybody hears it,” said Brenda Toll, Tockwotton’s director of nursing, adding that the attention can, at a minimum, be embarrassing. “I think a lot of the time it startles the resident – if that person has dementia, they don’t know what [the noise] is.”
Rather than sounding an alarm or flashing a light, the Vigil System – from Victoria, British Columbia-based Vigil Health Solutions Inc. – sends an alert directly to a pager or smartphone on the hip of a staff member. If that staff member doesn’t respond in an appropriate time – one to two minutes – then the system sends a second alert as well as alerting a second staff member.
“As I get older, all that background noise just drives me crazy,” said Tockwotton Executive Director Kevin McKay, “So imagine if you’ve got some form of dementia or have a cognition issue, all these nurse call bells going off. The quality of life can’t be good.”
In addition to being completely silent, the Vigil System provides a constant watchful eye over residents. The noninvasive system uses no cameras and includes a bed-exit sensor that detects when a resident is out of bed, an incontinence sensor to detect whether or not the patient has had an accident, infrared motion detectors located in the entry and restroom door frames to monitor resident movement through doorways and an infrared motion detector located in the ceiling of the room that detects resident movements.