Steve Taylor is a care technology expert at PA Consulting. PA Consulting are welcome sponsors of ADASS which furthers our charitable objectives.
Working with older, isolated and vulnerable people across Hampshire County Council, has proven that many of the older population are longing to access the digital world through mainstreamed consumer devices and often already have the hardware and aspirations to make it a reality. They lack only the guidance and patience of people wiling to show them how.
The documented challenges currently facing Adult Services departments across the County mean that demand for formal services will only increase and budgets are likely to reduce as the sector struggles with managing the increasing pressures.
To help manage this demand and take advantage of the growing desire to access and use consumer devices within this older cohort, local authorities need to think of themselves as the curators. They need to view themselves less as the providers of formal care, including telecare services where equipment is prescribed for an individual in isolation from other factors, and instead place more emphasis in their role as curators of care that utilise existing technology. Examples may include:
- prescribing apps or skills on voice-controlled devices to support with medication reminders
- reducing social isolation through communication with friends or family through smartphones or tablets
- controlling lights or TVs and other entertainment devices to reduce the pressure on informal carers visiting them to carry out everyday tasks for their loved one.
The use of wearable technologies such as fitness tracking devices and smart watches all have the potential to help support people with social care outcomes, especially in trying to increase independence. If local authorities prepare to utilise these opportunities now and arrange to support the aging population in understanding how they can best look after themselves with consumer technology, the benefits will be clear. Likely results will play out through reduced demand on the front doors of authorities as people become more independent and confident to care for themselves. Taking advantage of these changes will require a change in the mindset in way services currently operate.