Updated: 17:26, Tuesday December 3, 2013
Australian medical device firm Simavita says its 'electronic diaper' can help reduce the unpleasantness of incontinence management in nursing homes and make it less expensive.
The company has developed a small electronic sensor that is placed on an aged care resident's incontinence pad to detect urinary discharge.
Data from the sensor is then analysed using special computer software, enabling carers to build an accurate profile of the resident's continence - a 'live bladder chart'.
The chart is generated during the 72-hour assessment period that aged persons undergo when they enter long-term care facilities and is used as an aid for their future care.
'The live bladder chart completely changes the way we manage that person (resident) and their care,' Simavita chief executive Philippa Lewis told AAP.
The live bladder chart helps a carer determine what makes the resident want to discharge urine.
For example, it could be a positional change for the resident such as being lifted up from a chair and walked to the dining room.
The live bladder chart also indicates the general timing and frequency of urinary discharge, which Ms Lewis said was quite regular amongst aged care residents given the fairly standard pattern that their lives in care followed.
Current manual methods of incontinence management require carers to check and change a resident's incontinence pads every few hours, which is often unnecessary and provides no evidence-based data.
It is also an undignified invasion of the resident's privacy; unpleasant, labour-intensive and time-consuming for carers; and expensive in terms of staff requirements and the volume of pads that the aged care facility consumes.
Ms Lewis said that in Australia, carers could take a resident to the toilet four to eight times a day, and in the US, 10 to 12 times a day - even if the resident did not need to go.
More than 25 per cent of labour costs in aged care facilities were being deployed just for continence management.
Simavita is about to start trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange ventures market in Canada and hopes to also list on the Australian Securities Exchange, in January 2014.
Simavita recently raised $14 million to help it market its product in the big North American aged care market, which is potentially worth around $1 billion in the US alone.