Singapore is rapidly ageing as a society. With the number of seniors expected to double to over 900,000 by 2030, the need to prepare for an ageing population has emerged as one of the key priorities for the city-state.
Earlier this year, Budget 2018 unveiled plans to ensure that citizens can age healthily, purposefully and gracefully in an ageing country. As the challenges that come with caring for an ageing population become more pronounced, there are also mounting pressures on the sandwiched working generation to provide more support for their elderly family members. Local startup ConnectedLife saw an opportunity to address this problem and came up with a solution that can empower the society as a whole to care better for an ageing population.
Motivated by the desire to remain connected with his elderly father while travelling for business, ConnectedLife’s founder, Daryl Arnold, saw the need to be updated in real-time on his father’s daily activities. This got Daryl started on the whole process of thinking about how technology, especially sensors and devices could be leveraged on to bridge this gap. As the concept matured and evolved over time, this paved the way for ConnectedLife and Aviva to come together and deliver a unique solution that combines smart home technologies with 24/7 personal assistance and insurance cover to enable modern families to care for their elderly parents even when they are away from home.
Real-time updates at your fingertips, and timely assistance in times of need
“We started with a desire to address a societal need. Many of us have elderly parents who live on their own or spend a lot of time at home alone. As much as we want to stay connected with them and be on hand to assist them, we often aren’t able to be by their side at all times to provide timely care and assistance in times of need,” said David Ng, Chief Executive Officer of ConnectedLife.
The ConnectedLife Independent Living Solution comprises of an array of customised sensors and devices that analyses a user’s daily living patterns, sends intelligent alerts to their family and approved caregivers, to give users a comprehensive picture of their family member’s daily health status via a mobile application.
The Internet of Things (IoT) hub on ConnectedLife’s platform collects all the data generated from the sensors, including information such as smoke in the kitchen, water seeping in the bathroom, sleeping patterns of elderly parents and how many times they wake up in the night to use the bathroom. The thousands of data points being generated each day are processed via the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and delivered to family members and caregivers through the ConnectedLife mobile app in real-time.
“By leveraging on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, ConnectedLife is empowered to deliver innovative products and solutions without the hassle of managing the IoT backend,” said Gerald Leo, Commercial Partners and Small Medium Enterprises Group, Microsoft Singapore.
A 24/7 call centre is also on standby to provide immediate help and assistance in the event that a family member or caregiver is unavailable. Furthermore, the unique insurance cover by Aviva offers family members additional peace-of-mind by covering incidental care expenses of up to $1,000 a year, for hospitalisation as a result of accidents.
“For less than a dollar a day, we offer elderly members of the family around the clock care using ConnectedLife’s IoT system that is extremely easy to install. That means that they will be able to enjoy independent living and won’t be a burden on their adult children or caregivers,” said Jamie Baldock, Head of Digital Marketing and New Proposition Development for Asia, Aviva.
To date, ConnectedLife and Aviva’s solution has benefitted numerous elderly homes, and is being used at support organisations such as the Adventist Home for the Elders.
Enabling better care, security and peace-of-mind for families in Singapore
As one of the first few users of ConnectedLife and Aviva’s solution, Mdm Lina discovered the need for a safety net when she had a fall at home and had trouble calling for help.
“When that happened, I wasn’t able to move or get a hold of my phone. It made me realise that I needed a solution that could empower me to live independently, while allowing me to alert my family in times of need. The system is a great way to provide timely information to my family and gives me the assurance that help will be available during an emergency,” said Mdm Lina.
As a caregiver, Ruby Yuen also found the solution to be a great help in providing timely updates and assistance when caring for her elderly mother-in-law.
“All the information and notifications are sent to us via the mobile phone, so it is really convenient for us. We’ve heard of stories where elderly family members fell in the bathroom and were immobilised for a long time before being attended to. With this solution, we now have a peace-of-mind that help will be readily available if something happens to my mother-in-law and alerts will be sent to us immediately for us to take necessary action,” said Yuen.
Digital transformation crucial for SMEs to capture opportunities in a digital future
“With the ability to leverage technology like the IoT and the cloud effectively to solve pressing societal problems, start-ups like ConnectedLife have the agility to scale and bring their products and services to the rest of Asia and the world to support a rapidly ageing population,” said Leo.
Besides serving elderly homes and support organisations, ConnectedLife is looking to provide this solution to a broader range of enterprises such as nursing facilities or age-care homes, to help enhance their productivity so they can focus on their primary role of providing care to the residents. With ageing communities becoming a global phenomenon, ConnectedLife is also looking ahead to launch its service in North Asia, the United States, Europe and beyond.
“Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must embark on their digital transformation journey today. With the help of a trusted technology partner, these SMEs will be empowered with the ability and agility to innovate, scale and capture the opportunities in our digital future,” he added.