West Midlands company secures funding to benefit older people with complex health needs

Posted on 17 December 2015 (Permalink)

A company in the West Midlands is among 11 firms who have been successful in securing funding in a healthcare competition to address challenges in older people with multiple-morbidities.

Safekeeping Solutions, based in Winchenford, Worcestershire, has secured almost £100,000 from SBRI Healthcare, an NHS England funded initiative to develop innovative products that address unmet health needs. Seeking to accelerate the development and adoption of new technologies in the NHS, the £1million SBRI award will be shared by small businesses, including Safekeeping Solutions, which are working in the priority problem areas of falls, incontinence and decline in functional ability.

The funding will be used by Safekeeping Solutions to validate the technical feasibility and commercial value of an innovative bed-exit sensor. The technology aims to improve carer response times and deliver fewer false alarms, ultimately reducing NHS costs significantly and improving patient care. Safekeeping Solutions will be fully funded and supported with its concept for six month development phase. If Safekeeping Solutions demonstrates best value and technical feasibility in phase 1, they may progress through to phase 2 to be further supported and funded to take the technology through to commercialisation, and then spread throughout the healthcare sector.

Ruth Allen, Director of Safekeeping Solutions, said: “I am delighted that SBRI has awarded this funding, which will be used to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the sensor.  

"As an Occupational Therapist, my clinical experience working with individuals at risk of falling has led me to believe that technology has a crucial role to play in the multifaceted approach to falls prevention. Unlike existing commercially available bed-exit sensors, this device has an advanced sensor which can identify specific movement profiles. Our innovation will detect when an individual has the intention to move from a bed. The device will provide a prompt alert and minimise false alarms. 

"So many people we speak to about this innovation have a personal story to tell about how it could have made a difference to someone they knew who was receiving care.”

The West Midlands Academic Science Network (WMAHSN) – a regional organisation which sets out to spread innovations at scale and pace to make the West Midlands healthier and more productive - will be supporting Safekeeping Solutions in the development and commercialisation of the bed-exit sensor.

“We are pleased to see a West Midlands company stepping forward with an innovative idea to address one of the biggest challenges that the NHS faces – supporting older people who are at risk of falls from beds in a range of care settings,” commented Dr Christopher Parker, Managing Director of the WMAHSN.

“The project hopes to evidence that an accurate and prompt bed-exit sensor is desired by clinicians, as well as being obviously beneficial to patients. In hospitals and mental health units in England and Wales, around 44,000 patients fell from a bed between 1 September 2005 and 31 August 2006 - that’s about one in 200 patients. In this same year, 90 patients fractured their hip and 11 patients actually died following falls from a bed. The bed-exit sensor project was selected on its potential value to the health service and on the improved outcomes delivered to patients.”

The key academic partner in the application was the Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH) at the University of Warwick. Theo Arvanitis, Professor of e-Health Innovation and Head of Research at the IDH - and also co-Director of the WMAHSN digital theme - said: "IDH will now conduct part of the research and development with Safekeeping Solutions. One of the reasons that the SBRI application has been successful is because of the academic and R&D track record of IDH.” Dr. Mark Elliott, Assistant Professor of Healthcare Technology in IDH and the lead researcher on the project, added: “This is a highly innovative device which has the potential to substantially reduce the risk of falls in vulnerable patient groups in hospital and care home environments. We are very pleased to be working with Safekeeping Solutions Ltd to develop the algorithms for this technology."

Karen Livingstone, Director of SBRI Healthcare commented: “2015 has been another strong year for SBRI Healthcare and we are particularly pleased to have been able to support so many innovative companies given the financial pressures on the NHS. The ideas that SBRI Healthcare are supporting will hopefully help patients in the future with a range of issues including falls, incontinence and mobility.”

To find out more visit www.sbrihealthcare.co.uk.