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The impact of technology on social care

05 May 2015

Whilst technology is changing the way all of us live our lives, there is often some reticence to adopt it in a social care situation; simply using the word 'technology' can be enough to make the barriers come up and minds to close. But not for Mercia and Canary Care!

As Maggie Winchcombe points out in her article below, the new Care Act means that local authorities have real choices to make when helping older people manage their care. The emphasis will change from reacting to the needs of older people in a crisis to actively supporting them by highlighting the support choices that they have, including 'technology’. The impact that technology can have is that it can highlight earlier where there are needs which should be addressed, such as nutrition and hydration, which otherwise could result in a crisis situation which we would all rather avoid, and which costs both the individual and the state much more, both in cash and life impact.

A three year study by the health, design and technology institute at Coventry University, looked into the issues of the electronic assisted living technologies market and came up with these findings:

  • Many did not recognise that there were solutions to the problems they had and simply struggled on. This was partly due to stigma (and the consequences of admitting to a problem) but also a lack of awareness of what was available to help
  • The way products for older people are marketed often puts them off
  • Enabling factors were key to consideration - focusing on what assistive technology can help them to do eg: live at home, prevent falls etc
  • People felt they needed advice and purchasing decisions are highly influenced by others

So, whilst there is a willingness and desire to support older people to live independently, there is still work to do in terms of raising awareness, breaking through the barriers and highlighting the benefits of assistive technology to Health and Social Care Practitioners. If we are to improve the quality of care at home and therefore the quality of life in later years, then it is emcumbent on all parties working with older people to adopt a more positive approach to the use of technologies to enable independent living, not necessarily react to crisis situations after the fact.

For the full article by Maggie Winchcombe, please click on the link here.

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