Written by Helen Dempster, Chief Visionary Officer, Karantis360
As the ageing population grows and pressures on healthcare professionals mount, it has become clear that the care sector is strained. This is having an extremely negative impact on carers, and most importantly their clients, as they try to deliver a high quality level of care in a continuously pressured environment. Whilst the government is investing fundamental funds into the sector, it is important to question whether everyone is receiving the tools and resources they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
Take Elsie Melling’s case as an example; as a pensioner living with high blood pressure and a heart condition, the 93-year-old was left alone at home for three days without receiving any care or medication. Due to miscommunication, the carers were led to believe that Mrs Melling was taken to hospital after she suffered a fall, halting all care visits. But this was not the case, as in fact the paramedics had decided it would be best for her to remain at home. Mrs Melling was discovered by her daughter, who had gone round to see her mother as usual on the Sunday. This terrible misunderstanding resulted in a loss of life that could have been prevented if improved communication and monitoring tools had been put in place to alert the carers to their client’s presence in the home.
The serious outcome of this incident shows the desperate need for technology to be in the social care sector. Technology has the ability to fundamentally change how carers monitor their clients, as well as how they communicate with the client’s loved ones. Having a non-intrusive system of IoT based sensors introduced into the home could ensure the delivery of 24/7 care to the client, tracking habitual behaviour and spotting changes in real time. This real-time information can help carers to better understand each individual’s movements and the quality of care they require. Having this tool to hand could have given Mrs Melling’s carers a clear indication that she was present in her home and, therefore, still required a service of care.
There should also be complete visibility given at all times to all other parties in order to ensure the overall welfare of a patient. This includes detailed reports and images being shared with family members in real-time, and an easy way to communicate with the care teams. The adoption of an easy-to-use app gives every family member a way to keep abreast of how their loved one is by allowing them to track behaviour, whether they’ve been given their medication and most vitally what level of care they’re receiving. With this tool, Mrs Melling’s daughter would’ve been able to see that her mother wasn’t receiving the care she required and needed urgent assistance.
All these factors would’ve been key to preventing the confusion that arose in the case of Mrs Mellings. Visibility and communication is vital; from the carers to the family members, the paramedics to the GPs. And with current care services facing even greater challenges and pressures, it’s important that healthcare providers start to realise the benefits of harnessing technology and taking a more collaborative approach to care.
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