Philippa Lewis

Embracing technology in the care sector

With longevity comes the need for more medical and social support. With experts thin on the ground, technology can make a significant difference and ease the burdens on caregivers.

 

 

We all dream of living a long, rich life. Previous generations could have only dreamed of living the length this current one is expected to.

As recently as last century, ‘three score and ten’ (that’s 70 to you and me) was the expected life expectancy. But now, we are all living longer, and capitalising on this longevity is a fast-growing business all around the world. This is a great human and medical achievement; but with longevity comes the need for more and more medical and social intervention and support.

It’s inevitable that as we age, we’re prone to develop chronic diseases and disabilities. At the same time, we want to stay home, independent and safe.

Does anyone want to go into a care facility? Not many of us put our hands up for that experience! But why not? We want to stay home, and we don’t trust the care we might receive. However, to stay home, the reality is that the process of ageing also includes the need for more and more carers. In fact, aged care is expected to be the biggest employer in Australia by 2030; employing more people than are hired in retail, hospitality, mining and education.

We don’t have enough supply of trained people to meet this demand; the issue is not getting any less complex as we move forward.

No wonder we have older people suffering poor service, their clinical and social needs not being met and their families anxious about their loved ones receiving the care they need. Royal Commissions sometimes do reveal the truth and shine a light on the dark corners of reality. The key is to identify ways to bring about real sustainable change, for good. Such as has been the ongoing Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Among the testimony being given in front of this commission, we have been alerted to how limited funding, training and resources have led to aged care recipients being mistreated, mishandled, and the various hardships facing aged care residents, their carers, and loved ones.

One thing to keep in mind is that if your mum or dad are very elderly and have complex needs, they will require support services able to meet those needs. The average care worker does a great job, and they try very hard to meet the needs of those in their care. Aged care facilities are run by care workers, not doctors and nurses; it’s not a hospital. Care workers’ skills and training is often limited. To really manage the risks with limited resources they have is impossible if everyday activities are manual and not ‘tech-enabled’.

 

We don’t have enough supply of trained people to meet this demand; the issue is not getting any less complex as we move forward.

 

 

This is where bringing in technology can make a significant difference and ease the burdens on caregivers. Monitoring, data analytics, passive and active reporting driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning is highly valuable. Third-party surveillance of the older person and their activities of daily living is a powerful and effective way to ensure their safety, security and, that the services and support they pay for (and deserve) are being provided. Scheduling services, anticipating and preventing risks, managing remotely as well as connecting the person and their stakeholders is such an obvious way to drive efficiencies and deliver better outcomes.

Technology can provide evidence-based care delivery and analytics. It creates efficiencies that cannot be derived from manual processes.

Most important of all, it creates the opportunity to have more time to connect with, talk to and touch that older person in ways that the current time-constrained, under-paid, under-trained care workers have. Better ‘human-to-human’ care, more time to engage and more is what makes care a more joyful and rewarding activity; it makes the dollars go further and means our older Australians are respected and cared for in ways they deserve.

Time to embrace technology and give it the gravitas it deserves. The Royal Commission will probably note the need for greater ‘human-to-human’ care ratios. The solution to this is not necessarily to have engaged more humans, but to have more assistive technology available to extend the human touch.

 


 

 

Philippa Lewis

Philippa Lewis is the CEO of Homestay. Homestay is an ASX listed technology company committed to empowering older people and those living with a disability to stay in their own home, independent and safe.

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