Elder Care- Not leaving the house for a number of days

I work with older people to help them age at home and combat social isolation. At the moment we’re installing Smarter Things in a some older people’s homes to help them live more independently. The overall response has been positive so far but we’re hoping to start setting alerts when things in the home don’t seem quite right.
I’ve managed to set up quite a few different alerts, but I’m currently struggling to find a function that will let us know if a person hasn’t left their home in several days. This would help to let us know if the person was feeling a bit under the weather and needed some extra support, like having someone come over with groceries. Does anyone know if smarter things has a function to do this? Thanks.


You said “smarter things”—this forum is for people who are using the Samsung SmartThings Home automation platform. Is that what you meant? (I ask in particular because there is another system called Smarter Things with very different features.)

If so, sure, there are quite a few people doing that. You just need to have specific events that SmartThings can monitor. The most obvious would be geopresence on the client’s phone, and that has the advantage of only applying to that one person. (If they don’t have a smartphone, there are keychain fobs that can be used to mark “home” and “away.”) Another alternative would be an open/close sensor on their front door.

There are many different ways to set up those rules and there are people here who will be glad to help you figure out the specifics.

All of that said, as someone who myself uses a medical monitoring system, the privacy implications are horrendous for anyone other than a close family member or designated guardian. Particularly for a charity which likely has un bonded volunteers. It may not even be legal in some places unless they’ve signed a waiver. It’s just giving you way too much information. (Knowing when they’re home also means knowing when they’re not home, for example.)

Also, in my own case, not having gone out for a few days doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

So I just feel a bit uncomfortable with the whole concept in a charity situation. There are some other elder care charities which just have volunteers do a wellness check phone call every few days, which makes a social connection as well and seems more fitting.

There are, as I mentioned, also medical monitoring situations where the organization does set up a number of automatic alerts such as whether the person has showered or taken medications—but in those cases the people with access to the information are bonded employees bound by all the medical privacy laws. And the systems don’t rely on SmartThings for the information.

Has your charity’s solicitors reviewed this project yet for legal compliance? Or am I mistaken, and this information would only be available to employees?

As someone who does depend very much on supportive services (I am quadriparetic), I know that preserving both independence and privacy is a delicate balancing act when so much help is also needed. The help is very much appreciated, but respect for privacy is important as well.



All our clients have signed their consent for this project, so there’s no need to worry about that! I understand why someone might be concerned about the privacy implications. However, anyone who signs up for this project is completely informed about everything that’s involved and they have the right to opt out at any time if they decide it’s not suitable for them. We’re hoping to expand the service so that family and close friends will also receive notifications if something is amiss, but a lot of the people we work with don’t have many people close to them, so this system will hopefully make it easier to manage tending to everyone’s needs. Thank you for voicing your concern, I really appreciate your input.

OK, in that case, look on the quick browse lists in the community-created wiki, look down near the bottom of that page for the “project reports“ section, and then look on the “accessible“ list. You’ll find several projects of this type there, as well as some other discussions you may find interesting. :sunglasses:


(Also, “JMO” is the acronym for “just my opinion.“ :wink:)

Just my 2 cents, I would have 2 pretty big reservations with this. 1, SmartThings can have a lot of instability and need to tinker hands on (i.e. can’t be done remotely) to keep things running. Doesn’t happen to everyone, but if you look through the forums, you will find a lot of people with issues. If you had many setups you might find yourself continually running around fixing them. 2, if liability is a concern, the root issue for number 1 (instability) could cause false negative alerts. There are definitely more and less stable devices, but even with all “good ones” I wouldn’t consider it even close to bullet proof. One final bit is you cannot control when firmware is released to the hub, only ST can control that. So you could happily have X setups running solid and then a firmware is released and havoc ensues. Ideally you could control the release to your single test setup and work with it for a while. If happy, let it roll out to others.

On a more positive note, I think the technology and software (with custom apps) are capable of what you are after.

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