Mark Kennion, director, HAS Technology Group, offers his thoughts on how technology can be put to good use in the social care sector.
Growing demographic pressures, funding and the growth of the older population have presented a huge challenge to social care over the last decade. However, on a more positive note, we have seen the application of technology inspiring and delivering significant improvements in the delivery of care. Despite this, there is no immediate relief, and the sector needs to further embrace innovation and adapt to new care delivery models.
Our 20 years of experience has shown us that there is an appetite for technology and digital solutions, especially from providers and commissioners who are looking for the opportunity to improve services and quality. The barrier, however, is often how these solutions should best be implemented and managing the ‘change’ that comes with it, especially when there is resistance from a culture of unwanted change.
Delivering a new systems approach will be challenging, however embracing technology innovation can help make it happen. By treating digital projects as business change projects, not IT projects, any barriers can by mitigated to enable successful implementation.
Throughout the past 20 years, CM has worked closely with local authorities and care providers to supply software that enables better management of care provision and relevant data. We see it as our duty though, to continually innovate and offer new solutions that will drive the social care sector forward.
Today’s solutions deliver intelligence, enabling care providers and commissioners to make efficient and quality decisions. Care monitoring is evolving into a system which is less intrusive, yet more accurate and machine learning and AI provides new understanding of the huge volumes of monitoring data that is being collected.
Our ARMED solution is using low cost environmental and wearable sensors to remotely monitor service user risk indicators and, using algorithms with Microsoft’s machine learning, picks up falls risk and other frailty indicators far earlier allowing preventative action to be taken.
With the rapid growth of our telecoms networks, the social care sector will soon see wearable and home-based sensors becoming the norm. Alongside this, access to your own healthcare records and the ability to self-diagnose will revolutionise personal care. As artificial intelligence enters our world, robotics will support care workers with their daily care routines; heavy lifting; medication management and health checks. Technology innovation has the power to radically transform the delivery of health and social care but the industry must break traditional models and embrace this change to reap the rewards.
There is a negative perception that the older generation are reluctant or unable to embrace technology. We’ve found the opposite. They are willing, eager and very capable of learning, especially when the immediate benefits can be seen. Those that wear our ARMED electronic activity trackers have been motivated to become more active and are proud to share their personal data with friends and family.
As an industry, we all need to work together to embrace technology and find solutions that ultimately provide a benefit to the end user. Technology is not capable of replacing the human element of providing personal care, but it is proven to make significant and positive changes to its quality and efficiency.