Hi, I’m Ann Van Wesenbeeck

October, 4th 2022

Meet Ann Van Wesenbeeck, Head of Customer Support at Nobi. As an expert in fall prevention, she knows better than anyone how important a fast response is during emergencies. Ann immediately saw how Nobi could help them to live more comfortably, safely, and confidently.

We talked with Ann about the balance between fall prevention and smart devices like Nobi. Together, they help people live independently for longer and with more pleasure.

What’s your background, Ann? 

I’m a certified nurse and used to work in a residential care home. When working as a nurse, I learned that falling is a real problem for older adults. A fall that is not treated in time can have serious consequences. And if people constantly think about falling and become afraid to move around, that’s detrimental to their quality of life. That’s why I decided to broaden my knowledge. I enrolled in KU Leuven, where I studied hospital sciences. For my master thesis, I delved into the subject of physical restraints against falling. This allowed me to work as an advisor and educator for the Flemish Expertise Centre for Fall and Fracture Prevention.

Can you share some of your experiences with older adults regarding falls?

We clearly see that there are several risk factors. These include the medication they take, the shoes they wear, their muscle strength, the quality of their vision, pains, vitamin D deficiency, cognitive disorders, blood pressure, and their fall history. Older adults who have fallen in the past tend to experience more serious injuries and have a higher chance of additional injuries. It’s worth noting that I’m not alone in my observations. The World Health Organization recently published a report that confirms several risk factors play a crucial role when elderly people fall.

What brought you to Nobi?

I’ve always been passionate about improving people’s quality of life and society in general. At the same time, I believe we must think creatively and look for new and smart ways if we want to achieve real change. I already knew one of Nobi’s founders and their first business developer from my work at Care Solutions, a company specialising in software for the healthcare sector. I immediately saw the potential of the smart lamp. Nobi doesn’t prevent falls, but it does lower the chances of serious injury because help is called in swiftly in case of a mishap. That’s why I wanted to be part of the project and help it to expand around the globe.

Can you describe your role in the company?

As Head of Customer Support, I’m currently building the after-sales department at Nobi. That involves a lot of close contact with people who use our smart lamp. It’s a very human-centred job; I listen to their needs and feedback every day. At Nobi, we not only want to build the best technology for fall detection. We also want to offer the best possible service.

What makes Nobi unique, in your opinion?

There are many alarm devices available for elderly people, including wearables. But many of them still require some sort of physical action during emergency situations. Nobi helps quickly, even when there is no interaction coming from the person who has fallen. Aside from the fact that it’s an efficient and simultaneously non-intrusive device that detects and signals falls, there’s also the psychological aspect. Due to the short intervention time, older adults feel more confident and are less afraid of falling. Knowing there will always be someone to check on them and send help if needed ensures peace of mind and a higher quality of life. Being less afraid of fall makes them more mobile and agile. And people who have their movements better under control tend to fall less often. When they do fall, the chances of serious injury are lower compared to older adults who live and move around in fear. For me, Nobi helps create a good balance between prevention and detection.

Are there other things at play?

The privacy guarantees are somewhat undervalued at this moment. In my experience, that’s a make-or-break for many elderly people. They don’t like to be watched, especially by technological gadgets they don’t understand. Nobi is a simple concept and an elegant product that doesn’t interfere with their daily life. They choose the privacy settings and how much they want to disclose in emergency situations – a disguised type of visual, camera images, or no images at all. The images are never stored unless a fall occurs. The lamp’s design also plays a big part in the feeling of privacy and comfort. It doesn’t look like an ugly piece of hardware; it’s a daily object they are already familiar with.

Where do you see Nobi and yourself in 5 years?

Nobi will expand in the coming years and improve the daily lives of many older adults. For myself, there’s a lot to do. Since Nobi is a global product, I’ll be helping more and more users from all over the world. Language can be a barrier, and cultures differ, but the specifics of preventing and detecting falls are pretty much the same everywhere.

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