Probably unrepeatable…but worth repeating.

One of our users got in touch with us to say they had recently taken their mother on holiday and that they had left her Assure band ‘somewhere safe’; so safe, in fact that it could not be found.

Could we help her find it and another thing she had noticed was that on her online dashboard sometimes it could be seen and other times not. It looked to her like the battery might be fading.

We thought it odd that the battery could be fading, many of our bands last well over a year before the battery starts to fade.

People in conservatory in evening eating

We don’t have a find my band feature and so we set to work behind the scenes using engineering clues from how the band reports back to us. One colleague replied that the battery seemed fine but there were definitely issues with the band connecting to the base station almost like it was in a metal box and another strange thing was that it was reporting far greater temperature swings than the base station. The suggestion was that perhaps it was in a metal box in a conservatory.

I was telling my wife about this detective work but before I could mention the metal box in the conservatory she said ‘So it’s in a car then’. This explained why sometimes the band was out of range and fitted the other circumstances perfectly. We suggested that the glove box was explored. And there it was.

Whilst we are unlikely to be able to repeat finding lost bands quite so precisely we thought the story at least was worth repeating.

The assure has a unique combination of qualities which together bring significant benefits to our wearers.

Personal Alarm for the Elderly

Let’s get who the Assure won’t work for out of the way first and then we’ll let you know why we are a great solution for anyone else who spends significant time alone.

Though we have made the Assure as easy to use as possible it does need the wearer to interact with it. So if you are looking after someone who cannot remember to squeeze both buttons together if they want help, or to confirm they are OK by pressing a single button when the band buzzes then the Assure is not for you. In this case you may want to consider a system that monitors the home rather than the person. Such systems are typically more expensive than the Assure and require active interaction from the carers and are somewhat less effective at calling for timely help1 , but they can work around the person rather than with them.

If you have read this far it means you are thinking about the Assure for someone who can interact with it and whether it is for yourself or someone else the Assure is different for the following reasons.

The Assure is truly designed to be worn all the time. This is known in the trade as ‘fit & forget’ and is important because no one knows when an emergency will happen including high risk times when showering or an overnight visit to the bathroom.

There are several attributes designed into the Assure that mean it can be worn for a full year without taking it off.

  • We have built in an extraordinary 1 year battery life, so no recharging2. It is worth checking on some solutions that say they ‘can be worn’ 24 hours a day as they may also say they need to be re-charged
  • Waterproof for showering and bathing
  • Made of comfortable medical grade silicone to fit wrist sizes from 12-21cm circumference.
  • Stylish enough to win international design awards so you will be comfortable wearing it wherever you go
  • Activated with a simple squeeze meaning it can’t accidentally be set it off in bed, unlike single button wristbands.

So having designed a system that can be worn all the time we then considered if we could improve on the systems which had been around since the late 1980 and were still based on telephones. Using the latest in technology we realised we could do far more than basic SOS alerts and the wellness check-ins are unique to us.

  • SOS Alerts
  • Wellness check-ins. Choose the times for the band to buzz on the wrist and confirm you are OK by pressing a single button, wherever you are (You don’t have to go to the phone or alter your normal behaviour)
  • Fall monitoring. The band can listen for a ‘jerk’ pattern which is typical of a fall and then if there is little movement afterwards will again ask if you are OK by buzzing on your wrist. These settings can be personalised to suit frail or more active wearers
  • Household comfort zones. Put the Acticheck base somewhere representative of the household temperature (i.e. away from heat sources and draughts) and set a minimum temperature that will trigger an email. This can also be used as a frost monitor so even if the wearer is not at home responders can be warned if the pipes are in danger
  • Communication lost. If we don’t hear from the base for a period of time we will send an email to any administrators letting them know there may have been an internet outage. With traditional systems ‘No news is good news’ but with the Assure even if circumstances mean we don’t have you covered we’ll let you know.

Cutting your own toenails improves your life

There is some great research by the Institute of Ageing at Newcastle University (www.ncl.ac.uk/ageing/) showing that our ability to live fully independently is reliant on us being able to undertake a variety of ‘activities of daily living’. What they have observed is that usually it is the ability to cut our own toenails that is the first activity for which help might be needed.

Getting the nail clippers out as part of a regular health visit seems a good idea however this is addressing the symptom rather than the cause – a decline in physical abilities. If someone is no longer physically able to cut their toe nails, it is likely to be not long before shopping, or walking a few hundred yards, becomes difficult.. The act of kindness with their toenails is allowing the first domino to start a cascade down the slope of decline.

The latest thinking is that ‘re-abling’ is the best in the long term – finding the right exercises to give enough strength, balance and flexibility to enable people to cut their own toenails – and will take them to the top of the slope adding to the quality of life. Some stamina exercises would help keep them be able to do other things too.

One easy way of finding suitable exercises is to look at NHS Choices suggested exercises at www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Exercises-for-older-people.aspx. Moving on from the basic exercises there are even video classes to help to build all round fitness for all levels of ability at www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio/Pages/welcome-to-nhs-fitness-studio.aspx and you don’t even need to leave home.

As always, make sure you stay hydrated (drink water) and we suggest you make sure you have a good method of getting help if you need it – you can guess which we recommend.

Making confidence more affordable

A new ‘monthly plan’

We have been aware for some time that paying for the Assure and a year’s service in one go does not suit everyone. We now have a plan that can bring you the benefits of the Assure but spread the cost.

The system can be provided for an initial payment of £49.99 (plus VAT if applicable) followed by monthly payments of £9.99.

What is different

On the Monthly plan we will monitor the battery life in your system and send you a new puck in good time for a simple swap that you do at home. It is likely to be more than a year between swaps, but the exact duration will depend on how you use your system.

How the monthly plan is paid

If you pay by Debit or Credit card the recurring payments will start 30 days after delivery on the same card. If you would prefer to pay via Direct Debit just email support@acticheck.com and we’ll send you a link to set it up. We will also send you a link for this when your card comes towards its end date.

If you pay by Paypal we will be in touch with you asking you to set up a Direct Debit for the monthly payments.

We hope this will enable more people to enjoy the confidence the Assure brings.

When style is substance

When style is substance

We set out to put together a set of functions to make the Assure a terrific product for anyone who could be at risk if there was an incident and no one was around.

As well as designing great functionality we were clear that to work well the Assure should be worn at all times – so it is always there when it is needed. We even went as far as engineering the band to know when it is being worn and being able to report on it. Now whilst this is all well and good the one thing we can’t engineer is the wearer, and if they don’t want to wear it they won’t. We’ve seen this as a major problem with traditional ‘red button’ alerting systems where studies have shown they are only worn, on average, for 7% of the time.

We decided that the Assure should be stylish enough to compete with the best of consumer design and we set off to find expert designers who could bring a wealth of experience to bear to make sure the Assure is comfortable, both on the wrist and on the eye – to be something people would be happy wearing all the time.

We looked at what people were choosing to wear and realised that charity bands and sport trackers were ‘all the rage’. Bearing in mind we needed to have a squeeze trigger which was simple enough to be used by old hands or through a jumper, together with the designers we developed the Assure as it is today.

We felt chuffed with the look and certainly those people we gave it to liked the feel but then they would – if only to be kind to those who had been putting in so much effort. Saying ‘My mother loves it’ doesn’t really cut the mustard!

As far as mustard cutting goes, winning a major international design award seems to fit the bill and that is why we are thrilled to say the Assure has won an iF Design Award. To put this in context major manufacturers from around the world enter the competition and when one of last year’s winners was the AppleWatch you know you are measuring yourself against the best of the best.
We’d like to thank our designers, PDR, who were so patient in dealing with a demanding client, and to recommend the ‘award-winning’ Assure as a winning combination of form and function where the style is part, though by no means all, of the substance.

Karl Gibbs
Founder of Acticheck

Are we a caring culture?

Councils are being urged to deliver a culture of care in the ‘Helping people look after themselves’ report. Acticheck can help.

We believe there are many people who are able to cope in their own homes most, if not all, of the time. Often there is a natural network of people – family, friends and neighbours – who would be willing and able to help, if they knew help was needed.  No-one is invincible and knowing that help will be to hand if needed can be a great comfort, helping people live with confidence.

We like to think of these networks as communal care and whilst some people might have a plentiful network to call on others might use ‘co-managed’ care with a professional care provider as their fall back position whilst others might just use the professionals.

carer alarm system

Our award winning wristband is designed to give home & garden coverage and be worn 24/7 ; after all you never know when help might be needed.

Our Assure system has the usual SOS button plus other really useful alerts – fall detection, our unique ‘wellness check-ins’, household temperature warnings and system down warnings. We can even let chosen people know when everything is good by giving daily ‘up & active’ emails.

Importantly, it is simple to set up remotely through an online dashboard. This is a boon not only to family members who might want to set it up at home and install it on a weekend visit but also to hospitals and clinics that want to send people home to a safe environment. An extra night in hospital costs £250 – when the person would prefer to be in their own home. The Assure costs less than that for a full year and can be set-up in 10 minutes, given to the person when they are sent home and be plugged in, verified and working within 60 seconds.

This means no more overnight stays in hospital waiting for an installer to visit the vacant home before the patient can return!

Why create the Assure?

Why create the Assure?

A while back I was speaking with my mother and she asked why there wasn’t a service that could phone you up every day and make sure you were OK. She was not in poor health but sometimes it would be days without anyone visiting her and she just wanted the reassurance that if anything should happen she would get help soon and if the worst was to happen that her pets would be taken care of without delay.

The problem with the existing services was that they only work if you can guarantee to be by your phone when they call. If you lead a modern lifestyle where you don’t know when you are going to be in and out then there would be too many times when she’d come home to find a panicking friend. Times have moved on but essentially the telephone check still suffers from a lack of knowing whether you should be able to answer the phone or if you’ve gone out. There are generally override measures but they all ask the user to let the provider know rather than simply ‘knowing’ and that doesn’t suit everyone.

Technology has improved hugely and there are all sorts of internet based devices that look to see what is happening in the home and then make assumptions from that; this is called the ‘internet of things’. They tend to be complicated to set up and work on the basis that people follow a regular routine. Some of them will only raise an alert when they spot something out of the ordinary, so if you fall over putting the rubbish out one night it might be 9.00 the next morning, when you haven’t made a cup of tea, that the alert is raised. This didn’t seem good enough cover for my mum.

We wanted something that gave the best persistent protection (after all, you never know when an accident will happen) with the least system management possible.

So we studied what was available and what the shortcomings were and set to work using the best of technology to create the ideal system for the thoroughly modern lifestyle. We developed the Assure to be about the ‘Internet of people’ – connecting the wearer with the friends, family and neighbours just when they need it – and giving the concerned responders confidence that the wearer is OK, without pestering them.

To achieve this the Assure wristband has the following unique combination of design features:

  • A one-year battery life, so no recharging
  • Waterproof for showering and bathing (and dancing in the rain)
  • Squeeze SOS buttons, so no accidental alarms
  • Comfortable to wear being made from super soft silicone
  • Comfortable to be seen wearing, winning a prestigious IF Design Award for its contemporary styling

When it is linked through the stylish base station you have complete home & garden coverage and the following comprehensive alerts mean that the Assure gives excellent overall protection

  • SOS alert buttons
  • Always listening for signs of a fall
  • Wellness checks: Proprietary timed checks when the wristband buzzes asking the wearer to confirm they are OK by pressing a single button on their band. Ideally one in the morning and one before bed (and maybe one in between) gives everyone confidence in the ongoing wellbeing of the wearer
  • If the system fails (e.g. a power cut or internet outage) an email will be sent to the wearer and their administrators

Now you can also have a system that is good enough for my mum.

Karl

(and please remember that if you don’t get on with it the Assure comes with a 28 day quibble-free guarantee.)

When coming second feels like a win

Yesterday the Acticheck Assure competed with 5 other finalists from across the world for the BT Infinity Labs ‘Consumer Tech’ competition – and we finished as runner-up.

BT runs ‘Innovation challenges’ to find the best of global innovation with a view to potential commercial partnership to bring the products and services to a wider audience.

This competition was about connecting Friends, Family & Neighbours and we’d like to congratulate Invoxia, a global company, who won with ‘Triby’. It’s a super stylish device for keeping people connected during their everyday lives (see: http://www.invoxia.com/triby/), in some ways the other side of the coin to the Assure which connects people when their everyday lives take a turn for the worse.

The judges commended the Assure for the unique and simple approach that we have taken in solving the wide ranging problem of keeping vulnerable people independent with the least intrusion in their lives. We hope to work with BT to spread the confidence that the Assure brings more widely.

Who takes out the rubbish?

Who takes out the rubbish?

Paying it forwards*

What many people take for granted during their busy lives can take on a daunting significance for others. Take putting out the rubbish for example. For most of us it is just a chore but for some it can be like tightrope walking over the Niagara falls.

As people age or an infirmity progresses they often make incremental changes to ensure they are in control of their activity, maybe limiting their forays outdoors to times when it is daylight and they are suitably clothed for the weather or maybe making sure there is someone to see them in safely.

However when rubbish day arrives there is an expectation that the bins will be put out in the evening for the dustmen to pick up the next day. So all householders are encouraged to go out regardless of whether it is dark, wet or cold and to manœuvre a wheelie bin to a place where it is convenient for collection. As it should not take long there is a tendency for us not to think too much about what we are wearing, I think most of us have put the bin out wearing slippers from time to time.

As a catch-22, we have heard of people falling in their gardens putting the rubbish out and of people being taken into a care home because they have created a health hazard by not taking their rubbish out.

But just think about what would happen if you slipped and couldn’t get up, especially in a place where no one can see you, perhaps by a passageway or behind a garden hedge. Of course we hope you’d be wearing an Assure and would be able to call for assistance, but prevention is better than cure and this is something that is so simple for us all to help with – we don’t even need to put it in our diaries.

If there is someone who you live near who might find putting their bins out difficult from time to time, why not offer to put their bins out when you do your own. It might add a few minutes to a weekly chore but it is these simple acts of kindness that can be so very important to someone and help make our neighbourhoods into communities.

* ‘Paying it forwards’ is the idea of being kind to people who may not be able to directly repay you. This is a way of honouring/repaying those who have helped you when you were not in a position to repay them directly.

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