Archived Story

PioneerCare launches two new services

Published 10:13am Sunday, November 14, 2010 Updated 10:14am Sunday, November 14, 2010

The number of seniors living independently has increased over the years, and soon new products and services offered by PioneerCare will make the option even more viable.

An open house will be held Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Otter Tail Power Community Rooms to demonstrate two PioneerLink services the company is rolling out to the public in January.

One service, PioneerLink Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), will sound familiar to many — a small, transportable pendant with a button that can be pressed at any time to reach an emergency response center.

The second is called PioneerLink Home Monitor System (HMS), which uses electronic sensor technology to alert the caregiver of changes in daily living activities that may signal a growing health issue. In many instances, Marketing Director Steve Guttormson said, quicker response helps prevent need for hospitalization.

Systems like HMS have existed in assisted living facilities, but PioneerCare’s PioneerLink HMS is the first service of its kind by bringing sensor-based monitoring services to individuals in the community.

PioneerCare has been testing the service in a pilot program for about a year with 12 Pioneer Pointe tenants, 18 Pioneer Cottages residents and seven individual homes throughout the community. Both services will be launched commercially in January to communities locally in Otter Tail and surrounding counties.

The technology for HMS includes motion sensors in each room of the house or apartment, a humidity sensor in the bathroom, a heat sensor in the kitchen and a sleep sensor on the bed. There are no cameras or audio recording devices.

There is also a floor impact sensor that detects when a person has fallen. If the person hasn’t moved for 15 minutes, the emergency response center is automatically notified.

The humidity sensor in the bathroom detects when a person is taking a shower and the heat sensor in the kitchen knows when the stove is being used. The sleep sensor on the bed is positioned between the mattress and the mattress pad, and it monitors heart rate and can sense if the person is restless or in REM sleep.

The sensors record daily living activities in the subscriber’s home, alerting caregivers of any changes that may signal a health issue. PioneerLink clinical services staff reviews the daily reports that highlight any variations from normal trends and responds when appropriate. For instance, staff will notice changes in sleep patterns, or if a person has been moving around or cooking less frequently, which may indicate a health issue that can be addressed.

“It can tell us a lot about how a person’s daily living activities are either staying stable — their sense of normal — or if there’s changes in them,” Guttormson said. “If we can catch it early enough, we may be able to keep them out of the hospital.”

After a PioneerLink subscriber signs up for service, which is $149 per month for HMS, an installer will connect and test the system, show the person how it works and help set up a response plan to meet the individual’s needs.

Brenda Daniels, a registered nurse and PioneerLink’s director of clinical services, said the technology is a great tool to provide proactive care rather than reactive. It’s not meant to take the place of clinical diagnostics, she said, but can provide greater independence as an objective and ongoing health assessment.

“It’s exciting what this new technology is doing and what you can actually see,” Daniels said. “People want to stay at home as long as they can and this will just be one more tool to help them do that.”

The other service, PioneerLink Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), is a lightweight pendant that can be worn on a cord around the neck, on a belt clip or around the wrist.

The service is $29 per month, and when a subscriber needs help, he or she can press the button on the pendant, which will activate the system and automatically dials the PioneerLink emergency response center.

An operator will assess the situation by attempting to contact the person through a speaker that carries throughout the home. Maintaining contact, the operator will then follow an individual’s response plan to provide whatever help is needed.

PioneerLink is making both systems commercially available in January and is now taking pre-orders for service. A subscriber may choose one system or a combination of both systems. For more information, contact Brenda Daniels, director of clinical services, at 218-998-2621.

The open house and demonstrations takes place Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Otter Tail Power Community Rooms.


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