We have an increasingly tech-savvy older generation for whom digital technology is an integral part of their everyday lives. The latest Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report from Ofcom shows more than a quarter of over-75s use a smart phone and 38% have a social media profile and/or a messaging account.
The question begs, why should our use of technology change if we move into a care home?
It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking about technology in a care home setting purely in terms of traditional TEC like nurse-call systems. However, digital technology in all its forms is an enabler – it empowers people and goes to the very heart of the personalisation agenda.
Enabling connectivity with family and friends through a video call, joining a family gathering remotely, watching and following exercise videos, viewing family photos and recorded messages, can help keep people engaged and active in their wider network of family and friends when mobility becomes a barrier to a physical presence.
While TEC can play a role in supporting people to enjoy a better quality of life, a digital approach also delivers greater efficiency and effectiveness across the organisation, including tools to support a care home’s operation and management.
The reticence of introducing and integrating complex technology into a care setting is a common fear amongst providers but often it’s the low-level tech in care homes, like FaceTime, that makes a huge difference to people’s lives. It puts them in control, boosts independence and gives a person the freedom to pursue a range of activities just as they would have done at home. It also demonstrates the power of technology can be a real eye-opener for care home staff and pave the way for culture change.
That said, culture change will only happen if workforces feel properly supported and given enhanced training – and it starts with the care, health and broader public sector workforce understanding the role they can play in population health management. Leaders and progressive care home providers must be identified to drive forward this approach and a partnership culture that normalises information sharing and cross-service working with common goals and shared outcomes.
The amount of gathered data within hospitals, monitoring centres, care providers is immense with no interoperability or common datasets. We are data rich and intelligence poor – information from monitoring centres and TEC services could help here, particularly when it’s brought together with other data to inform data-driven planning and better delivery of care for the people.
Modern technology enabled care is best when it includes the effective use of data, blends into consumer technologies and has the service wrap around – these 10 wonderfully personal stories from TEC Stories Care Homes perfectly demonstrates this trinity in action.
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