Best Buy Health, AGE-WELL, Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University Partner on Aging in Place Research

Best Buy Health and AGE-WELL are partnering with the Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University in new research that will help older adults continue to live independently—and give their family and caregivers peace of mind.

Carleton and Bruyère researchers, with financial and technology contributions from Best Buy Health and AGE-WELL, are investigating Best Buy Health’s Assured Living in-home sensor-based smart technologies that monitor various aspects of older adults’ safety and well-being. The systems can detect changes in daily functioning and alert remote caregivers to out of the ordinary activity.

“Our objective is to enable Canadians to age in place with dignity and independence,” said Dr. Frank Knoefel, co-principal investigator and physician at Bruyère. “This technology helps caregivers identify changes in function earlier, allowing them to intervene and hence delay institutionalization. Aging in place is the preferred option, especially in the post-COVID era.”

Given the importance of sleep in the well-being of older adults, initial work has focused on bed pressure sensor mats that are placed between the mattress and box spring. Information about sleep duration and frequency of bed exits is assessed and the results can be reviewed remotely by caregivers and family members.

The next phase of research will focus on a complete home monitoring system. The research team will study how multi-room activities can help caregivers identify changes that require intervention. The team’s challenge is to convert sensor data to information about well-being that can inform care needs in real-time. Due to COVID safety considerations, research has taken place in the smart apartment at Elisabeth-Bruyère Hospital and in the homes of the researchers. Next steps will include testing the system at Carleton University and in volunteer older adults’ homes in Ottawa. The partnership represents an opportunity to leverage innovations that will ultimately support aging adults’ quality of life.

“Best Buy Health is always looking for new ways to enrich people’s lives through technology,” explains Sara Aghvami, director of Best Buy Health. “Our Assured Living system was developed with that in mind and is an ideal wellness monitoring system for this research. We are thrilled to partner with SAM3 to support practical research and solutions that positively impact Canadians in more immediate terms.”

The research is conducted as part of SAM3 (Sensors and Analytics for Monitoring Mobility and Memory). The SAM3 National Innovation Hub is a collaboration between the Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University in partnership with the AGE-WELL Network Centres of Excellence. The project’s long-term focus is to develop technology-based solutions for aging in place in collaboration with industry, clinical and academic partners, as well as older adults and their families.

“The strength of this partnership lies in the diversity of expertise within the team and the alignment of values between the partner institutions,” said Rafik Goubran, co-principal investigator and vice-president (Research and International) at Carleton. “We are grateful to Best Buy Health, AGE-WELL and Bruyère for sharing their industry expertise, community-based insights and medical clinical expertise, creating a unique team that is well-positioned to tackle this complex issue.”


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Ingenious Talks Online: Design of Long-Term Care Homes (LTC): Learning for the Future

Join us on Wednesday, January 20!
Registration Link

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of Long Term Care (LTC) homes throughout the world, with many countries reporting a troubling number of cases and deaths in LTC. Infection prevention and control protocols for hospital settings are relatively well-established to support hand hygiene, donning and doffing of personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection, and isolating and cohorting cases. Yet the protocols for LTC have not been examined to the same extent when developed and deployed rapidly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers have recognized the neglect of human factors, principles and research methods in infection prevention and control for LTC to be a weakness in the healthcare field.

In this talk Professor Chantal Trudel will discuss how she and a team of researchers will address how the redevelopment of Canada’s long-term care homes infrastructure is crucial in balancing infection prevention and control (IPAC) with residents’ quality of life and care, particularly during pandemic conditions such as COVID-19.

Design of Long-Term Care Homes (LTC): Learning for the Future
Wednesday, January 20, 2021, from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. EDT (Hosted Online via Zoom)

Industrial Design Grant to Study Long-Term Care Homes

Infection prevention and control in clinical settings is challenging enough. What about in long-term care and retirement homes – places that are designed to have communal and open spaces?

Chantal Trudel of Carleton University’s School of Industrial Design is working with investigators from the Bruyère Research Institute and the Ontario Centres for Learning, Research and Innovation at Bruyère with nearly $40,000 in funding from the Foundation for Health Environments Research in the United States to study the design of Canadian long-term care homes within the context of the pandemic. The team includes Amy Hsu, Frank Knoefel, Sophie Orosz, Heidi Sveistrup, and Bruce Wallace.

“Good design can and should balance infection prevention and control needs with residents’ quality of life and care needs. No resident wants to see their living space transform from the feeling of home to hospital,” wrote Hsu and Trudel in a recent piece on designing the future of long-term care and retirement homes.

Environmental design could be impeding health care workers from safely completing their tasks. The team will be studying how to address the problem of workers being both cautious and efficient, while respecting the comfort and homeliness of the spaces. The study’s first phase will aim to create design and infection prevention plans for participating homes to prevent future respiratory or COVID-19 outbreaks.

Smart homes for aging in place

Researchers in Ottawa are working with Canadian startups, multinational companies and other partners to develop smart technologies to transform our homes and support aging in place—a concept that is widely embraced in these COVID times.

Economical off-the-shelf sensors, novel new sensors and other devices are being adapted and enhanced to help older adults stay healthy, safe and independent, while reducing pressures on caregivers and the health-care system.

The ground-breaking work is connected to an AGE-WELL National Innovation Hub called SAM3 (Sensors and Analytics for Monitoring Mobility and Memory), launched in 2017 to address mobility and memory challenges faced by older adults. SAM3 is a partnership between AGE-WELL, Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University.

see full story on AGE-WELL NCE news.


Detecting COVID-19 Through Cough Sounds

This talk is on the work Madison Cohen-MacFarlane in her PhD within the SAM3 research.

CBC Radio Interview with Madison

Link to replay of talk will be added when available

Cough is an early recognizable symptom of COVID-19, which presents a set of challenges for diagnosis because coughs are common symptoms of other medical conditions. The creation of unobtrusive remote monitoring tools for medical professionals that may aid in COVID-19 diagnosis, monitoring and contact tracing could lead to more efficient and accurate treatments, especially in this time of physical distancing.

In this talk, graduate student Madison Cohen-McFarlane will discuss the development of what may be one of the first internationally available-upon-request database of COVID-19 cough events, created by a team of researchers at Carleton University. She will review numerous individual cough events obtained through public media interviews with COVID-19 patients and explain how they can be analyzed through audio-based sensing methods that address the frequency, severity and characteristics of the COVID-19 cough. Their work has also been able to differentiate between different cough types (wet vs. dry), which can help in the diagnosis. She will close by offering insights into how this research can be used for rapid exploration and algorithm development, which can then be applied to more extensive datasets and potentially real time applications.

Congratulations to SAM3 partner company Able Innovations on winning the AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge

Startup developing ‘effortless’ patient-transfer technology wins AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge: Toronto competition

Jayiesh Singh, founder and CEO of Able Innovations, told judges at the livestreamed event that the company’s DELTA Platform allows

a single caregiver to transfer a person in a safe and dignified manner. “Our device is mobile, compact and easy to use,” said Singh,

who first encountered the challenges around patient transfer while volunteering in long-term care homes in his youth.

Current methods of transfer require two or more caregivers in a process that is time-consuming and physically demanding.

It can also lead to transfer-related injuries, both for staff and patients, said Singh.

Jayiesh Singh of Able Innovations delivers the winning pitch for the DELTA Platform which enables patient transfers with just one caregiver https://agewell-nce.ca/
Able Innovations’ smart technology uses compact platforms to safely roll underneath individuals being transferred. An
AGE-WELL-supported study done with Bruyère Research Institute and Carleton University has helped to perfect the
system and demonstrate its safety and efficacy.

“Right now, we’re focusing on lateral supine transfers, so people who are lying down can be transferred to another surface
where they are lying down. It could be bed to bed, or bed to stretcher, or a stretcher to an imaging table,” explained Singh.

Single caregiver, contactless transfers will not only protect staff and patients from injuries, but also curb the spread of
infections in health-care facilities and free staff from labour-intensive patient transfers, said Singh.

Able Innovations plans to use the $20,000 prize money (plus in-kind prizes) to help deliver full-scale prototype devices to
hospitals who want to test them by the end of 2020. The company is also looking to secure pilot facilities and has recently
opened a seed round of financing to accelerate their path to commercialization.

Able is aiming to commercialize the DELTA Platform by mid-2021, with a home version to follow. “The demand for
products such as ours is only going to grow due to what’s happening with COVID-19, our aging population and the
compounding effect of nursing shortages,” said Singh.

Five startups took part in the July 9 competition. Each was challenged to explain how their technology-based solution can
positively impact older adults or their caregivers.

A separate award, the Bereskin & Parr IP Prize for Innovation, went to Braze Mobility and their CEO Dr. Pooja Viswanathan.
After launching the first blind-spot sensor system for wheelchairs that can detect obstacles and provide multi-modal alerts,
Braze is now developing MOANA (Module for Obstacle Avoidance and Navigation Assistance), which can prevent collisions
and increase access to independent mobility.

Along with pitches from finalists, the event featured a lively panel discussion on AgeTech and brain health with Dr. Garth
Smith, Vice President, Business Development and Partnerships, Ontario Brain Institute; Dr. Lili Liu, Dean, Applied Health
Sciences, University of Waterloo; and Jim Mann, member, federal Minister of Health’s Advisory Board on Dementia,
Advisory Council of Research Ethics BC, and AGE-WELL’s Research Management Committee. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
in 2007, Jim now volunteers his time to focus on living as well as possible with dementia. The panel was moderated by
Dr. Michael Chrostowski, AGE-WELL’s Business Development and Industry Relations Manager.

The 2020 AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge recognizes top startups and supports entrepreneurship in Canada’s
technology and aging sector. Two startups—eNable Analytics and Novalte—tied for first prize in the first competition,
held on June 18 with five startups from the Atlantic region. A third and final event in this exciting series will be held on
September 29 via livestream, in conjunction with the BC Seniors Living Association annual conference. Watch for
details at www.agewell-nce.ca.

“AGE-WELL welcomes the winning startups into our network, where they will be nurtured to maximize their impact
on the lives of older Canadians and their caregivers,” said Dr. Chrostowski of AGE-WELL.

Thanks go to all the finalists, the judges and also the sponsors of the competition: Aging2.0 Local I Halifax Chapter,
BC Seniors Living Association, Bereskin & Parr LLP, CARP, IBM Canada Ltd., Impact Centre, Innovacorp, Innovation
PEI, New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Ontario Brain Institute, Spectrum Health Care, and YouAreUNLTD.

Congratulations to Able Innovations on being a finalist in the AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge

Able Innovation is a project partner with SAM3.

Carleton COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund Award

COVID-19 – Design of Long-Term Care Homes (LTC) – Learning for the Future

The appropriate design of long-term care (LTC) homes is crucial in balancing infection prevention and control (IPAC) with residents’ quality of life and care, particularly during pandemic conditions such as COVID-19. While hospital IPAC protocols are relatively well-established, LTC protocols are not well developed and may not “fit,” and may even clash, with the unique characteristics of LTC. To address this, and support the redevelopment of Canada’s aging LTC infrastructure, we will develop short-term and long-term design studies focused on IPAC in LTC to explore front-line cognitive aids that can be readily deployed to support healthcare workers, as well as concepts to support future new builds and redevelopments of LTC homes. Such studies will be instrumental in helping us break ground in understanding the impact of COVID-19 in LTC homes and will also help provide impetus to build a dedicated program at Carleton focused on design and engineering for LTC.

Full Story

Congrats to the Multi-Discipline team from Carleton and Bruyère:
Chantal Trudel (PI)
Susan Braedley
Dennis Kao
Bruce Wallace
Amy Hsu (Bruyère)
Frank Knoefel (Bruyère)
Zsofia Orosz (Bruyère)
Heidi Sveistrup (Bruyère)