Two articles published by the HSJ yesterday:
Care home sector faces bed capacity lottery and
£18m assisted living technologies project announced
would seem to be closely linked.
Assisted living technology is now used to describe both telehealth and telecare. Telecare refers to technologies which allow people to continue to live independently safely. This includes various sensors and alarms which can monitor the person in their own home and trigger an alert upon a particular stimulus, such as flooding, heat, or someone not returning to their bed at night after a given length of time. Such alarms allow someone in deteriorating physical or mental health to live at home for longer, with carers and friends and family being reassured that they are safe.
Telehealth on the other hand is all about health monitoring. By monitoring their own health this enables doctors to obtain regular health data without the patient having to visit the surgery, and allows the patient to become more engaged with their own health, understanding what kinds of activity affect their health, and feeling more secure through knowing how their health is doing each day (as measured by vital signs such as blood pressure).
Both of these types of technology can help the patient to remain in their own homes for longer, telehealth by preventing or slowing deterioration of LTCs and telecare by ensuring safety and prolonged independence for those less able to look after themselves. Together with additional home adaptations, these should allow people to remain independent for longer, and hopefully to reduce the demand on care homes.
As observed in 2020health’s report Healthcare without walls, further development of these technologies relies upon central development of a better procurement framework, tariffs, and interoperability standards. In addition an electronic shared record, allowing easy sharing of records between staff working in the telehealth service and the patient’s GP would be useful.
We are pleased with the comments in The Plan for Growth which indicate that the Government plans to support this agenda, supporting measures to achieve scale and thus bring down the cost per unit. However, we feel that additional measures to support commissioning of such systems, such as the development of a tariff structure, will also be necessary.