By Dr Faustina Hwang, Biomedical Engineering, University of Reading
Most people know the importance of staying well hydrated on a hot sunny day. However, for vulnerable older adults, ensuring adequate fluid intake day-to-day is key to maintaining mental and physical health and lowering the risk of hospital admission.
A team from the University of Reading has been working in partnership with Perton Manor specialist care home in South Staffordshire to develop Hydration HEALTH (Hydration in Elderly Adults Linked to Temperature and Humidity), a technology-based system which aims to detect risk of dehydration and help care home staff ensure all their clients are drinking enough to stay healthy.
The Hydration HEALTH system monitors the temperature and humidity inside and outside the building as well as the client’s food and drink intake and fluid loss in order to better understand how these factors interact and affect their hydration levels.
The system was designed in collaboration with Perton Manor, and was recently trialed for a week in the specialist care home. During this pilot study, sensors were installed inside and outside the care home for continuous logging of temperature and humidity, staff used a mobile app to record clients’ food and drink intake throughout a 24-hour period, and six clients gave biological samples to be analysed for biomarkers of hydration.