A £1.6m trial is to examine whether wearable devices can help reduce COVID-19 infections and prevent deaths in care homes.
The CONTACT trial has been funded by the National Institute of Health Research and is run by the University of Leeds’s School of Healthcare, School of Engineering and Institute for Clinical Trials Research, in partnership with the University of Nottingham, data strategy company Microshare Inc, care home providers and local authority public health bodies.
Under the programme residents, staff and visitors in 32 care homes will wear wrist watches that register when wearers come into contact with each other.
The data will be used to identify infection trends, enabling care homes to adapt their procedures to manage infection.
Lead researcher Carl Thompson, Professor of Applied Health Research at Leeds’ School of Healthcare, said the devices would allow care homes to better manage the risk of infection and consider reopening to outside visits.
He said: “Contact tracing in care homes often starts and finishes at the front door. NHS Test and Trace or local public health team contact tracing can be difficult, expensive, and often results in homes simply being closed to visitors, and residents’ freedoms restricted.
“The CONTACT trial will test whether wearable digital devices improve contact tracing in care homes, reduces COVID-19 infections and untimely deaths, and provides the possibility of homes opening up to family, community and healthcare professionals.”