The NHS is to use energy smart meters to monitor dementia patients in their homes.
The devices will track patients’ daily routines, such as when they boil the kettle, cook dinner or turn the washing machine on.
They will flag up any sudden change in behaviour which could indicate an illness, a fall or a decline in their mental state. The meters will be able to send alerts to family members or carers, who can pop round to check if the patient is all right.
Experts say the devices will enable patients to live independently for longer without going into care, and prevent avoidable admissions to A&E.
Smart meters monitor households’ energy use in real time and send the readings directly to suppliers, putting an end to estimated bills.
Ministers have promised to install the devices in every home by 2020 to reduce energy consumption, but the rollout is massively over budget and behind schedule.
Privacy campaigners warn that the meters will hand suppliers a ‘honeypot’ of data which could be sold on to marketing firms or fall into the hands of hackers.