This blog by Ali Rogan, External Affairs Director, Tunstall Healthcare, describes the latest ADASS toolkit for carers “Guide to supporting carers through technology enabled care services”

The benefits to carers from technology is considerable ... but awareness is painfully low
ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) has a long-held commitment to supporting carers and contributing to the development of support and services which enhance the quality of life of carers. This report was requested by members of the ADASS Carers Policy network, following presentations and discussion facilitated by Tunstall Healthcare and Carers UK. 

There was an overwhelming consensus that technology enabled care such as telecare, can be an enormous help to carers but awareness of what was available and how to get it was limited. Carers UK report that when asked about telecare, in a Carers UK/YouGov poll, there was very low awareness of telecare technology, with only 12% of the population saying that they would use it. When the term was explained to them, this jumped up to 79% of people said they would use it and this was even higher for the over 85s.1

This report, aimed at commissioners in care and health, and other organisations, comes at an important point in time with the implementation of the Care Act. Technology is woven throughout the statutory guidance in the Act, particularly in the areas of information and advice, integration and prevention, providing a big opportunity for using technology to support carers and the people they care for.

Here’s some feedback on what carers told us during the focus groups:

  • We need support systems to connect people to each other and to timely assistance.
  • There needs to be choice, technology can’t be forced on someone and it must be easy to use.
  • Carers and families often felt reassured knowing someone else was involved.
  • Need easy access to a whole range of information and that’s where technology can play a part for carers.

What the report goes on to describe is a range of life case studies such as Lucy who is a working carer supporting Mum who lives with dementia; a family supporting Dad who is now struggling to cope on his own with various health conditions; a single parent supporting two children with learning disabilities; someone supporting a partner with a life changing physical disability and supporting a loved one with hearing loss and frailty.

As well as describing how technology has helped, the report also covers top 5 things advisers and commissioners need to challenge when looking at technology enabled care to help support carers, for example negative perceptions about technology, access to technology, lack of options and awareness and worries about the services surrounding the technology.

There is considerable evidence to support the view that technology enabled care services can improve the quality of life of carers and therefore it is important that commissioners understand the range of services that are available and the ways they can support carers.

What is clear from this report is that technology enabled care services can offer reassurance to families and reduce the pressure they come under in a wide variety of ways. From offering peace of mind to emergency responses, technology enabled care services can provide personalised responses to complex challenges as part of an overall package of care and support.

ADASS Carers Policy Network will continue to promote good practice in supporting carers and sees this report as part of that ongoing support. It provides a valuable guide to commissioners and I hope that through it, carers across the country will benefit even more from technology enabled care services. 

 “Guide to supporting carers through technology enabled care services”

1. Carers and Telecare, 2012, published by Carers UK