Care technology is not new to social care. Analogue technology such as personal alarms and mobile warden services, have been used for decades in sheltered housing to help people remain independent and safe.
Care technology incorporates services such as telecare, telehealth, telemonitoring, digital health and devices like alarms, monitors, apps or wearables; in fact, it’s any technology-based solution which improve care in our homes and communities. It also spans the whole spectrum from prevention and early detection (e.g. preventing and detecting falls), through to specialist interventions, such as the use of immersive or virtual reality solutions to assist rehabilitation.
In the same way that online shopping has transformed our retail habits and made our lives simpler, technology can, and is, having a similar effect in social care. It’s not about replacing a carer with a piece of technology; no one would choose that. Care technology is about making care services more efficient and designing services to better meet service user needs.
Care technology should be implemented as part of a holistic care package; the silent thing that enhances good care. Innovative use of care technology has the potential to enable carers to manage their work better, for service users to remain more independent, and for family and friends to better cope with caring for their loved ones.
Talking to Elder Magazine recently, Alyson Scurfield, the CEO of TEC Services Association highlights how care technology has helped support her dad to Age in Place;
“My father has mixed vascular dementia, one of his wishes is not to have any formal carers, but to live in his own home with my mum for as long as he can. We have had to figure out how we can help my dad, but more importantly for his sake, how we help the family to care better for him. We use technology not just to connect us, but to connect all the professionals that work with dad should his condition progress. It also gives us all reassurance that we are somewhat in control”
A huge range of care technology is available and new products and services are being developed all the time. It’s now up to local commissioners, social care practitioners and service users themselves to explore what is available to take the plunge to implement a new innovative way of working.
With the imminent transition to fully digital telecoms networks that operate over the internet, instead of old analogue lines, there’s a huge potential to embrace innovative care technology. Digital systems offer a massive step change in the way that technology can enhance a person’s care and independence; with multiple devices, each with a specific function, being able to work together, with the person at the centre of it all.