High-tech health care – Central Queensland Today

Sarah New, Alison Mehrton and Karen Pile are being trained at the Plenacura Care Center.

By Matthew Pearce

A new Rockhampton-based company hopes to use advanced technology to make independent living a reality for the elderly and other people with health challenges.

Plenacura’s health monitoring devices, including a wearable watch, tablet and arm monitor, are the result of more than four years of research.

CEO and director Simon Lever said the idea for the company came about when Plenacura co-founder Antony Harrowell first crossed paths in 2017.

“Antony saw that his grandmother was not well and wanted to help her,” he said.

“At the same time, I was running construction and mining camps and couldn’t get the answers I needed during medical emergencies.”

Plenacura’s waterproof wearable device provides 24-hour health monitoring, enabling the elderly, people with disabilities and those with other health conditions such as epilepsy to live more independently.

“We went around and spoke to people in aged care centers, the emergency services, and asked them what the biggest problems they are having,” Mr Lever said.

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“According to QAS, eight out of ten calls to people with snaps were wrong. People with pendulums around their necks can accidentally trigger them… they push them, they sit on them… the ambulance is called and finds them sitting there drinking a cup of tea.

“The cost to the government and to us as taxpayers is enormous.”

Plenacura’s “Care Center” will be located on Level 1/Building 33 on the CQUniversity campus in North Rockhampton, with the company on a three-year lease.

“We made the decision to locate Plenacura in Rockhampton four years ago and we have stayed true to that decision, investing a great deal of time and money. Antony is based in Melbourne but has always supported us in having the center here in CQ.”

Expected to launch in about a week, Plenacura is currently in beta testing and has already changed the lives of its users.

“If one of our patients has a medical episode, an alarm will sound and we can pinpoint exactly where they are. From there we call Triple 0… we can tell them where the person is, their condition, what medication they are taking, dosages, what they are allergic to…

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“When the ambulance actually shows up, they have a snapshot of their health record, there’s no guessing, even if the patient is unconscious.”

Plenacura’s Safe House feature includes a secure door lock and video doorbell, allowing the care center to quickly grant access in the event of an emergency.

Other features of the system include geofence capability for people with dementia, fall and panic alarms, meal ordering and one-touch video conferencing.

Plenacura combines the Latin words plena and cura and means “holistic health”.

“The incumbents out here don’t deliver all holistically, they just deliver the one,” said Mr. Lever

“While existing TeleHealth solutions are limited to one or two markets, Plenacura’s capabilities enable deployment in markets unavailable with other solutions.”

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Plenacura’s devices are fully encrypted and unlike other services, patients own their own medical information, meaning they keep it even if they switch providers.

Plenacura has taken over the entire first floor of the formerly vacant Building 33 at CQU – currently 18 nursing wards are established with space for more as the business grows, with an ultimate goal of employing 85 staff in Rockhampton, as, plus other staff in Sydney and Melbourne.

The center will operate 24 hours a day, with staff working eight-hour shifts.

Specialist accredited mental health social worker Dr. Ken O’Brien, has also signed on with Plenacura to provide specialized mental health support services. My Local IT Guy is located on the same floor as Plenacura and serves as the supporting arm of the business.

“They’re all here because they share the vision of what we’re going to do together,” said Mr. Lever.

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