Healthcare start-up by Netwatch founders helps elderly stay living independently

Irish firm HaloCare’s software tracks and interprets movement and health at home

HaloCare is the brainchild of David Walsh and Niall Kelly, the Irish founders of global remote monitoring security firm Netwatch, and entrepreneur Johnny Walker.

HaloCare is the brainchild of David Walsh and Niall Kelly, the Irish founders of global remote monitoring security firm Netwatch, and entrepreneur Johnny Walker.

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A new Irish software company co-founded by former Netwatch chief executive David Walsh aims to enable older people to live independently for longer.

HaloCare claims its technology, for tracking movement and health data in the home with live medical monitoring, will revolutionise senior care.

Installed around the home, the range of technologies can collect health data, monitor personal safety and facilitate social connection.

HaloCare says its technology – the development of which was driven by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – is for those too fit and healthy for nursing home care for whom extra support could prolong independent living.

Its software can monitor an individual’s movement, posture, eye gaze and count steps without the use of cameras. Further interactive devices can remotely monitor the symptoms of chronic diseases such as diabetes, COPD, heart disease and arthritis. Carbon monoxide levels, gas and water leaks in the home can also be flagged.

Nurses and care specialists will provide round-the-clock remote monitoring from the company’s Carlow town care hub.

‘Complementary’ care

The software will “complement” the work of family carers, professional homecare providers and community health professionals, the company says. The collection of health information is GDPR-compliant and shared with family and health professionals only with the consent of the individual.

The company currently has 55 customers comprising homecare companies and individuals.

HaloCare is the brainchild of David Walsh and Niall Kelly, the Irish founders of global remote monitoring security firm Netwatch, and entrepreneur Johnny Walker.

Mr Walsh stepped down as chief executive of Carlow-based Netwatch earlier this year, but still owns a stake in the business. In 2018 Netwatch merged with companies in Britain and the US in a deal funded by private equity firm, Riverside.

Mr Walker is founder of remote medical imaging company Global Diagnostics.

Forgotten middle-ground

HaloCare has created 20 jobs at its monitoring hub in Carlow, and it anticipates further hires next year. The company is also developing new technologies to predict the likelihood of a fall based on the person’s movements around the home.

“There’s a forgotten middle-ground of ageing people in our society: those who are too fit and healthy for nursing home facilities, but nevertheless need a little extra support to enable them to continue living independently in their own homes,” Mr Walsh said.

“Professional homecare providers do a fantastic job but often are limited to an hour or two per day. Innovative technology like HaloCare, with 24/7 real-time support, can play a positive and significant role for the remaining 22 hours.

“Hopefully, in time, the HSE or other health organisations around the world would look at this and say we can really change the model in terms of care in the community.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said, “It is heartening to see new, innovative and forward-thinking solutions such as HaloCare emerge from the [Covid-19] crisis. I welcome and encourage the ambition of companies like HaloCare which promises wider and deeper support for older and vulnerable people in our society”.

Central Statistics Office figures predict that those aged 65 years and over will increase from 629,800 in 2016 to potentially nearly 1.6 million by 2051. HSE figures at the end of August showed 4,030 people assessed as needing home care support were still waiting for it.