Category: Case Study

3rings care partners with Be Independent Telecare Service in York to launch 3rings Plug service

3rings Care, the pioneer Internet of ‘Things that Care’ business, has launched the first phase of a new service with Be Independent telecare service in York.

3rings Care provides a care support platform and technologies to provide patterns of active living reassurance for families and support for health and social care professionals.

Be Independent is a Social Enterprise Community Interest Company delivering traditional telecare services typically through assessed need.

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Rachael reviews 3rings

When one of Rachel’s sisters moved to Spain, the family lost having a relative nearby to help support their 93 year old grandmother and knew they needed to change something. Since using the 3rings plug it has helped to improve the whole family dynamic.

Although my grandma is 93, she is so independent and when my sister who lived closer to her moved away it fell to the other three of us, as well as my dad to keep checking up on her. This definitely became frustrating for her, we stopped having real conversations and were just always checking she was eating enough, was drinking enough, feeling OK and so on.

It was all necessary though as she’d fallen a couple of times and had not been found until some while afterwards. So when I heard about 3rings at a work event run by Westfield Health it was like the lightbulb just came on, it was exactly the answer to our situation! The anxiety and concerns had been causing family discord, my dad was really feeling the pressure, but now we just get told every morning and evening she is OK and can subtly check whenever we’re worried about her.

My grandma has actually had two falls since we got the plug and we knew about it almost instantly, I dread to think how long it might have been had it not been for the morning alerts, so I can’t really praise 3rings enough!

Luke reviews 3rings

With Luke Pickering being in London for work, he found himself dealing with the daily anxiety of being over 100 miles away from his mother in their home town of Liverpool. Luke still talks to his mum every evening but 3rings provides him with reassurance each morning that his mum is up and about.

I wasn’t looking for a solution but when I saw 3rings on Dragon’s Den I realised it could really help give me peace of mind. I moved to London a while ago and I’ve got a busy life here. When Dad died Three years ago, I suddenly realised how far away from Mum I was and that I felt so helpless should anything happen to her.

What’s been so rewarding about using the 3rings plug is how much happier Mum is. I knew how anxious the situation was making me but I hadn’t anticipated the peace of mind 3rings would give her too. She’s such a technophobe, the fact that she doesn’t have to do or change a thing makes the product so perfect, it just slots into her routine and daily life, literally!

Thankfully I’ve never had a negative alert other than when she’s been on holiday, but I feel that with the plug in place I have the best chance of reacting as fast as is possible, and that makes us both feel a lot better.

Joan reviews 3rings

3rings provides Joan Pearson with reassurance that her 93 year old mum, who lives alone, is OK. Before using 3rings Joan’s mum was having falls and her family were becoming increasingly worried about her welfare and ability to live independently. Now Joan and her whole family have peace of mind that they can keep track of their loved one and be quick to respond if any behaviour is cause for concern.

I first heard about 3rings through Dragon’s Den back in 2015 and was shouting at the telly, ‘why don’t you fund this?’ Although I didn’t take it further at the time I later remembered 3rings when my 93 year old mum was starting to have falls and Social Services became involved. As my mum’s not too good on the phone, I thought this could be a great way to make sure she’s ok without having to call her all the time. I spoke to my brothers who said go for it.

We’ve been using the plug for a couple of months now and it gives me enormous peace of mind to know that my mum is up and about in the morning. 3rings is connected to her kettle so me, my brother and sister in law all know when she’s had her first cup of tea, and predict when she’ll have her next one. That pattern is really reassuring. If that changed I would think ‘where is she, what has she done?’

I can’t emphasise how reassuring it has been. It’s not a substitute for care it’s just reassurance, one less thing to remember. If I can give this peace of mind to just one other family that would be amazing.

First experiences with a 3rings Plug

Steve Williams is the co-owner of the Bolton office of the Home Instead Senior Care network. This is a brief insight into his first experiences when he tried the 3rings Plug with his 83 year old Mum, Ivy.

Ivy lives, on her own, just over 20 miles away in Stockport and like most people of her generation is fiercely independent. She has Steve and his two sisters who between them are in daily touch with mum and visit her every day at some point.
Steve introduced the 3rings Plug to his mum and together they decided that the best appliance to use to know his mum was OK each day was the kettle as she always uses the kettle each morning between 8.00am and 11.00am.

So armed with this information, Steve set about installing the 3rings plug. Installation was straightforward, quick and simple. There was a little hitch during the installation where the plug said it couldn’t install but a quick retry resulted in the problem sorting itself out without further difficulty.

In setting up the plug, with the times to monitor mum and the details of who to send messages to, Steve found that this process was very easy and intuitive.
“One of the big things that mum really liked about the plug, and was key to her accepting it, was that it is very unobtrusive and doesn’t interrupt anything already in place.”
Steve finds the daily notification reassuring and useful as he gets the ‘All’s OK’ message each day at 11am.

Additionally, he also found the Pattern of Active Life (PAL) activity tracker very useful. For example, one night knowing his mum was going to be out late, he could discretely see that she had arrived home safely and had used the kettle.
All was well for many weeks but then on January 2nd, Steve received his first alert as his mum had not used the kettle. A quick call to check found that everything was OK but his mum felt reassured that he knew about it and had called to check.
Steve then realized that in getting his first alert he had to take responsibility for the Alert

and tell 3rings everything was OK. Despite being unfamiliar with the process, it turned out to be fairly straightforward and 3rings was quickly showing the big green tick, the sign that says everything is OK at Mum’s house.

Once installed and setup 3rings just goes about its business checking Mum is OK each morning and sending the family the daily message, ‘All is OK’. The messaging is now just part of the safety net to help look after mum.

Apart from a small technical glitch caused by a mobile signal issue one day, operation of the plug has been very smooth over the first few months.

The last red alert was recently received on the 14th March, but Steve knew that his mum was going out early that morning. So he was able to go in to the Activity Tracker to see that she had used the kettle before the 8.00 monitoring start time. This provided him with reassurance that she had gone out early with his sister and was ok.

Steve comments: “Overall, I’ve really like using the 3 Rings Plug. When asked, I’ve said it doesn’t do everything, but it does something very useful. Our family have more than daily contact with mum and this is just another way of monitoring that important early morning period. My mum is reassured by it because she knows that if for any reason she doesn’t use the device we are on to it by 11.00 am.”

Steve continued “As a family member, having been road testing this for a few months, I wouldn’t want to be without it now.”

Leaving the last word to his Mum, Ivy said, “It’s very helpful to know that this is in place, I think it’s great. I don’t have to do anything with it for it to work and that suits me and Charlie very well” (Charlie’s mum’s cat!)

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For a retired school teacher and her elderly mum

For retired schoolteacher Rosemary Phillips looking after her elderly mum has been tough for the last seven years.

But thanks to the 3rings Plug, a device designed to help people keep check on their elderly relatives, she has recently discovered a newfound peace of mind – and some relief from the stress of it all.

Now 86, Rosemary’s mum Eileen had suffered bouts of depression since her husband died 20 years ago. Rosemary, who lives a 10-minute drive from her mum in Carlisle, said: “To a large extent mum has just given up on life. It’s very sad but life has become something of an existence for her. She is physically okay but tends to just sit in her chair most of the day.”

In May this year when 64-year-old Rosemary decided she needed a holiday, carers were put in place to keep an eye on her while she was away.

And at the same time, Rosemary’s brother Steve decided to see if there was any way technology could help too – and they decided to give the 3rings plug a try.

Now, when Eileen gets up to make her morning cup of tea, the moment she switches the kettle on, an alert is sent to Rosemary’s mobile phone. Her two brothers: Steve, who lives in Cheshire, and Anthony in Hartlepool, also get the alerts. If by 11am Eileen hasn’t used the kettle they each receive a ‘red alert’ warning – telling them their mum hasn’t been active that morning.

Rosemary says: “Mum doesn’t even know it’s there to be honest. She doesn’t really need to. It’s so simple but you wouldn’t believe the difference it’s made to my life. It’s given me such peace of mind. Getting mum some carers in place plus the addition of the 3rings plug has taken such a lot of worry off my mind. I was really stressed before and now a lot of that stress has been taken away.

“Thankfully we’ve only had the red alert once and it turned out to be a false alarm. It turned out mum had ran out of milk so she hadn’t made a brew that morning! My son, who also gets the alerts, dashed round to check on her to find she was fine.

“The 3rings plug is such a fantastic invention – I would recommend it to anyone who has an elderly parent living by themselves. Once you’ve put your personal settings in on the app on your phone there’s nothing you or your mum or dad have to do. Just wait for that alert each day and the reassurance that they are okay. Like all the best inventions it’s really simple, and you’re left thinking, ‘I wish I’d thought of that!”

 

“The 3rings Plug certainly doesn’t replace face to face contact with mum – I still regularly pop round to see that she is okay. But it just provides me with that extra bit of reassurance, which is invaluable. I don’t know what I’d do without it now.”

A personal experience by an experienced Telehealthcare Professional

 

My mother died from cancer 35 years ago when my father was 60 and had recently retired from the Civil Service. He then suffered from depression, a condition which wasn’t helped by a need for prostate surgery and 2 hernia repair operations over the next 5 years. His lifestyle became unhealthy, he didn’t exercise enough and he developed Type 2 diabetes. He was clearly not looking after himself.  His sister, who was a couple of years older than him, was then widowed. She had no children and was lonely. She jumped at the opportunity to move in with him; for 20 years they were able to share each other’s company, go shopping together and go on holiday together on a number of occasions. He took his first foreign holiday with her in 1995.

Over the years, they both had their health concerns but looked after each other. She did the cooking, and when her arthritis worsened, he did the shopping. Nobody really knew how well or how poorly they lived until his eyesight started to deteriorate and it was clear that he was no longer being careful about what he ate, and his compliance with diabetes medication had become pretty poor. She became housebound, and he wasn’t inclined to leave her home alone. Within 6 months they had become an old couple who needed daily help from both family and formal carers. Unfortunately, my aunt became confused as a result of a urinary tract infection and was taken to hospital where she suffered a fall one night as a result of which she broke her wrist. She died within a fortnight.

My father seemed to recover well after the initial shock of bereavement; he resumed his interest in horse racing and wanted to visit the bookmaker most days of the week. Yet, his balance was deteriorating to the point where he was having almost weekly stumbles. He admitted to getting up in the middle of the night for a smoke, a cup of tea and some toast so we were concerned at the prospect of him suffering a heavy fall and being left on the floor for hours without help. At this point we realised that his blood glucose levels were far from stable, and usually too high; he also frequently forgot his medication but was happy to eat cakes and marmalade that were high in sugar.

We took control of his medication and dispensed his tablets into a weekly dose organiser and tried to accept and use a social alarm telephone and pendant device. Unfortunately, he made it clear that he didn’t want the alarm and wouldn’t carry a pendant with him – a typically obstinate old man who confuses independence with a lack of common sense! But my sister and I knew that he was likely to suffer an accident or a bout of illness and would be without help for hours unless we came up with a more acceptable solution than an alarm. At this time, I came across 3rings. It was relatively low cost and entirely non-intrusive. I plugged my father’s kettle into it and told him that we were going to monitor his use of the kettle. He had no problem with this.

It was easy to program the 3rings device on the company’s website so that it would send both me and my brother an alert as a text message if my father’s kettle was not used during 3 time windows every day. Confirmation that he had boiled the kettle for breakfast in the morning gave use significant peace of mind as it confirmed that he wasn’t on the floor and incapacitated. The 3rings website allowed us also to check that he was having a cup of tea with his lunch, a coffee at tea-time and another cup of tea in this evening. In fact, we were able to track how many times a day the kettle was used. His average was 5 but he didn’t once boil it fewer than 3 times a day over a period of three months.

In July, we noticed that he had become more unstable on his feet. This coincided with us receiving more alerts from 3rings to tell us that he hadn’t used the kettle during one or more of the time windows that we were monitoring. We challenged him on why he was drinking less tea and coffee but he responded that he was having cold drinks because the weather was warmer. As he doesn’t like to drink tap water, we looked at how much orange juice and cordial were being used from the fridge. We found little evidence that he was having any cold drinks and because he had also been complaining recently about headaches, fatigue and muscle cramps, we suspected that he was dehydrated. We pinched the skin on the back of his hand and pulled it upwards. It maintains its pinched shape for a few seconds and dropped only slowly with time, again implying a dehydration issue. At this point he admitted that he had cut back on his fluid consumption because he wanted to reduce his number of visits to the toilet which was upstairs, and difficult for him to get to in a hurry.

As a result, we installed a downstairs toilet for him, and he has started to drink far more during the day. His balance has improved, and he hasn’t suffered a fall for several months. We have arranged a rota and now one of his children visit him every morning with a newspaper. This allows us to check how he is and whether he has taken his medication. We also administer his 7 different eye drops and ointments at night. He continues to live on his own and will soon be celebrating his 95th birthday, God willing.

Helping dad stay independent with technology

It is two years since 85-year-old Arthur was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s – and one thing he certainly isn’t short of is people worrying about him.

All four of Arthur’s children live within a few miles of his home in Prestwich in North Manchester. And if they’re not popping round to check on him, they’re calling to ask if he’s OK.

“Myself and my two brothers and sister are thankfully all close by, which certainly makes things easier,” says Arthur’s 45-year-old daughter Lesley. “But we all have to go out to work in the day so it’s not possible for us to get round sometimes until the evening to see him.

“After mum died two years ago and dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, it got to the point where we were each ringing him several times a day. In all honesty, it was starting to annoy him. He’d sometimes not pick up the phone, or switch it off, or when he did answer he’d tell us to stop ringing him all the time! It got to be a bit of a problem. We wanted to call to check he was OK but in doing so we were irritating him!”

Help was at hand when Lesley heard about the 3rings smart plug, a new device that helps people keep an eye out for their elderly relatives who live independently.

The device is plugged into Arthur’s kettle in his kitchen and lets each of his children know in the morning when he gets up to make a drink – via a ‘peace of mind message’ sent to their mobile phone. Most days at 10.30am the family gets a reassuring message to tell them he’s put the kettle on. If not, they get a ‘red alert’ telling them he hasn’t used the kettle yet and there could be a problem.

“We’ve only had the red alert once,” adds Lesley. “On Mondays and Tuesdays he goes to a local coffee morning and one day he overslept so he left the house without making a drink at home. We got the alert and thankfully my niece was able to pop round and check on him. She found him at the coffee morning having quite a nice time and wondering what all the fuss was about. But we were of course glad to know he was OK. It was a false alarm but it shows the device really works.”

For Lesley and her family the 3rings plug is easing some of their anxiety around their dad and his condition.

“We all have to go out to work and we just don’t have time to get round to see dad before we set off. I’m sure it’s a familiar story for a lot of people. So if something did happen to dad in the morning it could be evening before we found out. With the 3rings smartplug we get to know if there could be a problem and one of us will pop by.

“It just helps you sleep at night knowing that even though you can’t be with them in the morning there’s something in place which can tell you whether they are OK or not. As soon as I know dad is up and has made a drink I can relax a bit more and get on with work. You never completely stop worrying, but it does make it a bit easier.

“At least one of us still goes to see dad every day, so it’s not about replacing face to face contact with him. It’s a difficult time at the moment, but with this clever plug as an added reassurance, we feel like we’ve got some extra help available to us.”

Making sure mum is OK when we’re 7,000 miles apart

Trying to look after an elderly parent can be difficult at the best of times, even if they live close by. But when you’re nearly 7,000 miles apart, keeping an eye on mum or dad can be especially hard.

That’s the reality, however, for Julie, who for much of the year lives in Singapore – the other side of the world from her 84-year-old mum Joyce whose home is in Oldham in Greater Manchester.

Joyce has lived alone since the death of her husband two years ago. Although in good health, her nearest relative, granddaughter Kate, lives 25 miles away in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

Julie puts in daily phone calls to her mum to check she’s OK – whether she’s abroad, at her other home in London or visiting her daughter and grandchildren in Cheshire.

But since the summer she has had a little extra help in the form of the 3rings smartplug – a device created to help people check their elderly relatives are safe and well every day.

The device is connected to Julie’s mum’s kettle, and uses mobile technology to send Julie a ‘peace of mind message’ to her phone each morning telling her that her mum is up and about and has made a hot drink.

Julie says: “By 10am if mum has got up and made a cup of tea, as she does every day, a reassuring message pings on my mobile telling me all’s well. If she hasn’t made a drink by 10am I would get an alert which tells me something might be wrong as the kettle hasn’t been used. It’s an additional reassurance each morning that mum is OK – although because of the time difference between the UK and Singapore, it’s early evening in the Far East when I get the alert!”

Julie bought the 3rings smartplug, and a subscription to use the service, in the summer – and so far the family have had no ‘red alerts’ only daily ‘peace of mind messages’.

Julie adds: “We are very lucky that mum is in good health at the moment. She is independent and is easily able to look after herself without any outside help. But that doesn’t mean we don’t worry about her, and every day I make sure I check how she’s doing. The fact that for much of the year I am thousands of miles away means that isn’t always easy – even though mum is only a phone call away.

“The 3rings Plug has really helped take some of the worry away and gives us extra peace of mind. It’s by no means a replacement for making personal contact – but a really helpful addition to what we are doing already.”

Julie says they are lucky that her mum’s neighbours also keep an eye out, and can be called upon to pop round in the event of a ‘red alert’.

Julie adds: “I’m an only child so have no brothers and sisters to call on for help. Thankfully when we are not in the UK, we know we could ask neighbours to drop round if something happened. And my daughter is also not too far away and visits her grandma regularly. Between us, at the moment anyway, we feel we’ve got things covered given mum’s good health and the fact she can look after herself. With the 3rings smartplug we’ve now got a simple but effective way of knowing every day that mum is up and about and safe and well. It’s such a nice feeling to hear that ‘ping’ on my phone every day – and I feel much closer to home.”

How mum’s bedside lamp gives us all a good night’s sleep

When it comes to looking after our elderly parents we never stop worrying, says retired civil servant Gill. But we can learn to manage our worrying, she believes, and with a little help from technology, can even reduce it.

Gill’s mum Nancy is 94 and lives only a few miles from her daughter in Swinton in South Yorkshire.

Until a couple of years ago, Nancy had enjoyed good health and there was little doubt she could live independently and take care of herself.

A widow for nearly 30 years, she was used to living alone. However, hearing problems and arthritis became of increasing concern to Gill and her three sisters.

Gill explains: “A couple of years ago mum began to deteriorate and I found myself worrying more and more. I live the closest to mum, although my three sisters, who live in Wakefield, Wales and Australia, are also very much involved in looking after her welfare. I go and see her every day, apart from Sunday when my sister comes over from Wakefield. When I go on holiday we make arrangements so my sister from Wales comes up to visit. It’s a lot to manage but between us we seem to get by.”

Earlier this year Gill, 63, heard about a new device called the 3rings smartplug, which can help those with elderly relatives to make sure they are OK.

The device uses mobile technology to tell users when their relative has used a designated electrical device such as a kettle, TV or toaster. It’s a simple way of establishing that someone is up and active and going about their normal daily routine.

In Gill’s case she and her sisters knew her mum went to bed at almost exactly the same time every night. And when she did so, she always switched on a bedside lamp before getting into bed.

“Mum is a bit of a creature of habit and she always goes to bed just after 10pm. Even if she’s in the middle of watching something on TV she’ll still go upstairs at around that time. You can almost set your watch by her. So we’ve set the 3rings plug to tell us when mum uses the lamp. A ‘peace of mind message’ is sent to our phone – or we get a ‘red alert’ if she hasn’t used it. So far, thankfully the message comes through like clockwork and gives us a little bit of reassurance that she is fine and has gone upstairs to bed. I wouldn’t say it’s taken all our worries away but it’s certainly reduced some of our day-to-day concerns.”

“It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t in a similar position what it’s like having an elderly parent who lives on their own. It’s not so much that it’s physically demanding, it’s mentally demanding. My first thought when I wake up each day is usually, ‘I wonder if mum’s OK’. Because of her hearing problems it’s difficult to talk to her on the phone now, so the 3rings Plug has been a godsend. For what it costs us I think it’s fantastic value. I don’t know what we’d do without it now.”