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Electronic underpants skin friendly

New technology is making the lives of incontinence sufferers and carers easier.

The effective and discreet management of continence is an important issue for many residents of aged care homes.

Incontinence impacts on an individual’s health, independence and dignity with the proper care management integral in lessening each impact. For people experiencing incontinence, skin care management is very important.

Prolonged contact of skin with urine leads to skin irritation, often known as incontinence associated dermatitis (IAD).

Inflammation of the surrounding skin surface produces redness, pain and itching, and sometimes swelling and blister formation. The skin may also become infected, which worsens the situation. If the skin is kept damp and warm, the environment promotes bacteria growth which in turn may cause fungal skin infections and urinary tract infections.

Ageing skin is generally more vulnerable and needs continual care and assessment in relation to incontinence. Continence products not being changed regularly – or as soon as soiled – is one of the most common causes of incontinence related skin problems.

To combat this, aged care facilities are looking towards new technology, such as Simavita’s revolutionary SIMsystem – otherwise known as the smart pad or electronic underpants.

Following successful clinical trials in a number of aged care facilities in Melbourne, the automated remote monitoring tool, has secured approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and is planned for launch in November 2009, becoming available to residential facilities Australia-wide.

Incontinent patients need to be monitored regularly for wet pads when a resident first moves into an aged care facility so nurses can assess how often they need to have the pad changed.

The system works when the electronic sensor in the patient’s pad sends an alert to nurses via a pager. At the end of a three-day assessment, the technology provides nurses with accurate information of how often a pad needs to be changed.

“SIMsystem has revolutionised the continence management assessment process,” says Jo Laker, manager of Melbourne’s Samarinda Lodge, one of the first aged care facilities to install the technology.

“Having an automated remote monitoring technology significantly improves cost benefits and clinical outcomes in caring for aging incontinent people. My staff have significantly more time to attend to their elderly residents and there is less distress to our residents, particularly those with cognitive impairment”.

As well as having many health implications, adult incontinence is a high cost for care in nursing homes. The federal government spend in excess of $1.2 billion in supporting the cost of continence management in residential aged care settings.

Following it’s fulfilment of regulatory requirements, the system is likely to receive government funding for use in nursing homes, says Phillipa Lewis, CEO of Simavita.

“Use of the SIMsystem in residential homes and aged care facilities will ensure that carers and nurses can provide quality care to the growing population of elderly incontinent,” Lewis says.

How the SIMsystem works

An electronic sensor in the patient’s pad sends a text message to the nurse or carer’s pager when it is wet and needs to be changed. This allows patients to go about their daily life without interruption. The number of continence events is recorded on the server over the three day period, providing a chart which accurately assesses the level of incontinence and the required continence management.

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