In home aged care is being revolutionised by a new digital technology that matches seniors with people nearby who can help them with day to day activities.
The Five.Good.Friends app was developed in response to research which showed that 97 per cent of Australians over the age of 50 wanted to stay in their home for as long as possible.
Entrepreneur and co-founder Simon Lockyer said he hoped the technology would give older Australians more independence and confidence while living at home.
“Too often you hear about people going into residential care prematurely because of simple practical concerns; my partners and I knew there must be a better option. That’s why we started Five.Good.Friends. We think it is critical for people to plan for how they want to grow old,” he said.
“There are three keys to health and wellbeing at any age but especially as we get older. They are social connectedness and support, in other words, how many friends can I call upon if I need help? The magic number is around five. Plus how much control do you have over the decisions you make about your life?
“Research shows that quality of life and longevity very much centres around enabling older people to maintain relationships in their life but we couldn’t see anyone providing quality home care that was simple, transparent and consistent, let alone affordable. We knew that our experience with digital technology could help with that.”
The app connects seniors with aged carers and other skilled people, but Lockyer said the most requested service in the program was just simple companionship.
“While Five.Good.Friends uses the latest technology, real relationships are fundamental to what we do and the matching process is really important. People often just need a little bit of help around the house but our most requested service is actually companionship. People need connection,” he said.
Digital health expert Richard Royle, said there were untapped benefits to helping older Australians stay at home for longer.
“As Australia’s population ages, there is a very real risk that our health care system will struggle to cope with the projected increase in hospital admissions,” he said. “Anything that supports our older population to live independently and safely within their own homes for as long as possible, hast to be a good thing.
“We are yet to see the full benefits of digital technology within the health and aged care industries. This will change rapidly as more and more older Australians start to access digital applications to manage their own health and health information.
“We are already seeing an emerging trend of consumers preferring to take charge of their own health care in this way, so customising this technology to assist elderly people to access in-home support services and provide coordination of care is really just the next logical step.”
Co-founder Nathan Betteridge said after finding success in Brisbane, the service is now available in Sydney, Melbourne, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Hervey Bay and the Mornington Peninsula, with plans to expand in the future.
“We know that older people value consistency, trust, simplicity and being in control, so we have created a membership model that relies on a small weekly fee that the person can easily stop at any time,” he said.
“Because there is direct contact with helpers who clock in and out using our app, there’s total visibility to everyone including family members who are the person’s primary carers. People are able to use more hours than previous providers offered and at a time when they want it including weekends because we don’t charge more.”
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