Feasibility of Non-contact Smart Sensor-Based Falls Detection in a Residential Aged Care Environment

  • Ann BordaEmail author
  • Cathy Said
  • Cecily Gilbert
  • Frank Smolenaers
  • Michael McGrath
  • Kathleen Gray
Part of the Intelligent Systems Reference Library book series (ISRL, volume 170)


Few studies of sensor-based falls detection devices have monitored older people in long-term care settings. The present investigation has addressed this gap by trialing the feasibility and acceptability of a non-contact smart sensor system (NCSSS) to monitor behaviour and detect falls in an Australian residential aged care facility (RAC). Methods This investigation was undertaken using a mixed methods approach, comprising three phases:
  1. (1)

    Pilot study design and implementation at a RAC, using a purposive sampling approach;

  2. (2)

    Study evaluation and post-pilot interviews; and

  3. (3)

    Analysis and review of results.

Results Data was collected for four RAC participants over four weeks of the NCSSS pilot study. Numerous feasibility challenges were encountered, for example, in the installation configuration, placement of sensors for optimal detection, network and connectivity issues, and maintenance requirements. Conclusion The area of smart sensor technologies in falls monitoring and detection remains a relatively emergent field of investigation, and presently there are few real-life studies of NCSSS in an Australian RAC setting reported in the literature. This study confirmed that NCSSS technology may have a role in falls and behaviour monitoring of elderly residents in RAC and home environments. However, feasibility factors may affect implementation and adherence.


Falls detection Falls monitoring Smart sensors Ambient assistive technology Residential aged care Patient safety 



Study participants and their carers; Staff at the residential care facility; Professor Fernando Martin-Sanchez, Universidad de A Coruna; Advisory Board members Dr Frances Batchelor (National Ageing Research Institute) Melbourne, Prof George Demiris (Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle), Prof. Dr. Michael Marschollek (Hannover Medical School and University of Braunschweig—Institute of Technology); Dr Karen Courtney (School of Health Information Science, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada) for permission to adapt her interview guide, and Raoul Ney, Semantrix Pty Ltd.

This study was funded in 2015 by the Networked Society Institute (formerly, Institute for a Broadband-enabled Society), The University of Melbourne, and completed in 2017.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Borda
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cathy Said
    • 2
  • Cecily Gilbert
    • 1
  • Frank Smolenaers
    • 1
    • 3
  • Michael McGrath
    • 4
  • Kathleen Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.Melbourne Medical SchoolHealth and Biomedical Informatics Centre, University of Melbourne (FMDHS)MelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Director of Physiotherapy Research, Austin Health/PhysiotherapyUniversity of Melbourne (FMDHS)MelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Australian Centre for Health Innovation, Alfred HealthMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Semantrix Pty Ltd.MelbourneAustralia

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