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RMIT Associate Professor Sharath Sriram and Sleeptite chief executive Cameron van den Dungen examine the flexible sensors. Photo: Mark Dadswell

Bedding fabric to monitor residents’ health

What if bedding could tell you about a resident’s health?

That’s what Australian researchers are exploring as part of a $1.7 million government-funded program.

The project team plans to fix flexible, unbreakable electronics into bedding products to enable real-time monitoring of health and sleep and minimise night-time disruption.

It will be designed to give nurses, carers and aged care facility managers greater insight into the health and wellbeing of people in their care by identifying movements or potential areas for concern.

Research and advanced manufacturing company Sleeptite is leading the development of the monitoring program. Also on board are Canadian biometric data specialist Hexoskin, Melbourne-based advanced manufacturer Sleepeezee and RMIT University.

Sleeptite chief executive Cameron van den Dungen said the program’s main objective is to put residents and their families at the centre of how care is provided.

“We are entering a new era for the aged care industry, one where the demand for excellence in functionality, design and care will be higher than ever before,” van den Dungen said. “It is imperative that we look beyond just how aged care is regulated and how homes are styled to how care is provided in the first place.

“Australia has the chance to become world leaders when it comes to increasing the quality of health care provided to its elderly through technology, technology that not only supports the valuable care workers but enables them to provide greater care than they believe is possible, and at a cost that is more affordable than the assistance currently on offer.”

RMIT researcher Associate Professor Madhu Bhaskaran, who is leading the team behind the flexible electronics, said the method is a cost-effective way to improve the supervision and monitoring of people living in aged care and assisted living facilities, especially at night.

Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation Zed Seselja, who announced the grant, visited the university’s Micro Nano Research Facility to view the sensors and learn more about the project.

Seselja said he looks forward to seeing the tangible benefits it will bring about for residents, their families, nurses and healthcare staff.

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