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Care homes or care at home?

By Paul Burstow

22 September 2017

When the NHS celebrates its 100th birthday

in 2048 there will be over 100,000 centenarians living in the United Kingdom. What will that mean for health and care?  

Inevitably, much will have changed. So to scale-up 20th century solutions to meet anticipated demand would be to act on the wrong assumptions. We need to look at what those future centenarians are doing now, in their 70s, and what they aspire to.  

What sort of care do people want, and how do the care homes of the future differ from the care homes of today? Will people want more specialised housing, including care homes, or will they want general needs housing that can adapt to their changing needs and lifestyles?  

Demand for care is growing. But headline figures for the number of care home places required by 2048 miss the point because the demand curve will bend as we focus on prevention, reablement and the proactive use of technology to keep us connected and active.  

The choices we make, even in our 70s, can have profound effects on our future selves and our ability to maintain the rhythms of daily life. Focusing on retaining and recovering functional capacity is key; maintaining muscle strength, grip and balance can make a huge difference to our quality of life and how independent we feel.  

So what does this have to do with TECs?

I set out some of TSA’s thinking and work on these questions at the King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress. Service industries are being remade by the convergence of mobile technology and cloud computing, the internet of things, big data, machine learning and 3D printing. The health and care sectors will not be left untouched by this.   

Add to the mix the impact of the shift from analogue to digital and the growing numbers of people creating their own solutions by repurposing everyday household appliances – smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home mobile technology - to enable and enhance their lives and reduce the risk of long-term health conditions getting out of hand.   

In a recent blog for the charity Independent Age I talked about personalised digital support ‘bundles’, new digital handyperson jobs and anticipatory and preventative service models driven by artificial intelligence fuelled by data.

All of this and much more will be on a packed agenda at the TSA’s International Technology Enabled Care (iTEC) Conference in Birmingham.  I look forward to seeing you there. 

Paul Burstow will chair iTEC 2017 at The ICC, Birmingham on 16-17 October 2017. To register for a place please visit the conference website,   

Find out more about Paul Burstow’s role as TSA President here. Follow Paul on twitter @PaulBurstow

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