5 things I’ve learnt about telecare
19 September 2016
In this post, Michelle talks about how telecare, connected care and other assistive technologies can be used to support people to achieve their desired personal outcomes.
As the impact of the economic downturn and the dwindling public finances from the credit crunch continue to affect public services in the UK, there is a growing likelihood that all of us will experience a reduction of funding over the coming years and possibly longer.
Add that to added pressures to deliver personalised care, early detection, intervention and prevention of issues for people, and new responsibilities through the Care Act; and it’s no surprise that providers can feel overwhelmed. After all, they are being asked to provide more, for less.
Can technology really help?
One alternative that has been talked about in health and social care circles is connected care (or ‘telecare’). This is the use of the technology to supplement great support for people, around the clock.
I was curious as to whether technology can really provide a solution to help people meet their outcomes, so I started exploring how we can make sure we are using new technologies in a way that really reflects what matters to and for people. I’ve been doing this with Tunstall Healthcare, who’ve given me a real overview of what’s out there. Now I’m feeling really optimistic about the future of connected care, especially when it’s combined with person-centred practice! As a result Helen Sanderson Associates and Tunstall have developed a new programme to help organisations learn about combining person-centred practices and connected care, which we have called ‘Switched On Support’.
Here are some things I’d like to share about what we’ve learnt:
1) Telecare can help us work smarter
Traditionally, care and support workers call on people at set intervals to check how they are doing. By introducing the right telecare for the right situations, people can be in control of when someone comes to visit or assist them. This can make the whole process more efficient, enabling support workers to focus their energies on those who most need it at any particular time.
2) Connected care can support individual choice and control
When looking at what’s important to and what’s important for people, the risks involved sometimes mean that people aren’t always able to have the independence they would like. In some circumstances, connected care can reduce the risks by monitoring a person’s activities, and this supports greater independence, choice and control over their lives.
3) Connected care can stop problems before they grow
It’s often not possible for care and support workers to be available round-the-clock, but technology can be. This means that a person can be monitored in a way that suits their needs, and if anything is out of the ordinary it can be picked up quickly. As a result, care and support workers can intervene early on, stopping situations from escalating and possibly reducing the need for acute or intensive care.
4) Technology can help people feel more connected to the people in their life
The idea of replacing some support worker visits with technology can seem cold, as if we are reducing the chance for a person to interact with others. But these days, telecare technology can in fact work to keep someone better connected. There are connected care solutions out there that work as a virtual window on the world, allow people to talk to others using video chat, and request in-person visits from care workers, handymen and more. It’s just a matter of working out whether these solutions are appropriate to the person.
5) To get the most out of technology, we need to apply person-centred approaches
This brings me to my final point – technology is great, but only if it works for the person. Any solutions that have been brought in need to relate to an individual’s outcomes, and reflect both what matters to them (the things that make life worth living) and what matters for them (being healthy and safe).
For example, we can use tools like ‘Good Day / Bad Day’ to explore how technology could play a part in creating their ideal lifestyle. We can use the Just Enough Support process to identify the best possible ways of getting there. We can use Planning Live to make sure that we’re basing everything on a clear set of desired outcomes. Only when we’ve got the information to make well-informed decisions can we start to think about the solutions.
My final thoughts
With a person-centred approach embedded, we can start to see where technology can play a part in helping providers to provide the best possible care and support even where resources are stretched. It’s absolutely crucial that we approach any new innovations in this way, to make sure that we’re not just using them because they seem like a good idea, but instead because they really meet a need or can significantly improve a person’s quality of life.
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