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Deborah Hughes

Faculty Rounds

Kathryn Daniel (right), associate professor, is director of the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program helped develop the “Smart Care” apartment (above).

Safe at Home

Smart Care uses technology to help seniors live independently

Helping older adults live independently longer is the goal of a new initiative being carried out by UTA researchers.

Earlier this year, nursing and engineering researchers unveiled a “Smart Care” apartment at the Lakewood Village Senior Living Community in Fort Worth. Infused with intelligent care technology, the apartment is designed to reduce risks encountered by older adults and those with disabilities.

Kathryn Daniel, associate professor and director of the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program, serves as program manager.

Deborah Hughes, clinical instructor in nursing, and Judy Leflore, professor and associate dean for simulation and technology and the Samuel T. Hughes Professor of Nursing, have each received the UT System’s 2015 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

The Smart Care apartment includes sensors underneath tiles on the floor that measure and evaluate changes in walking gaits and weight that might suggest illness or injury; a special camera embedded in a bathroom mirror that tells researchers about day-to-day heart rate, facial expression, and skin color; and other systems that detect whether medication is being properly managed or if the resident is not sleeping well. The apartment also features a lift chair to help residents stand, high-tech appliances, and exercise equipment.

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration provided more than $600,000 in funding for the five-year project.

“UT Arlington is at the forefront of life-changing and innovative research in the area of health and the human condition,” says U.S. Representative Joe Barton, who advocated for the funding. “Ultimately, Smart Care will positively impact senior citizens, people with disabilities, and injured veterans. It will also save money for people across the Dallas-Fort Worth area and nationwide by reducing the number of repeated trips to hospitals for some residents.”