With an ever increasing ageing population, the issue of care for the elderly and vulnerable becomes more prevalent not just at a local level but also nationally. The problems faced by this group of people, such as social isolation, quality of care, cost of care and quality of life are problems that all of us will one day face.
View the Summary and Update for GeniUS! Challenge 2
View the original question and conversation for How can we intelligently use non-intrusive tools and methods to aid older and vulnerable people in their homes?
Please watch the video about Frank.
One of the biggest hurdles we currently face is communicating what we already have available to those who may be able to make use of it.
Raising awareness that technology can enhance elderly and vulnerable peoples lives in addition to traditional care packages is important. In some instances technology may prevent the need for formal care for some years as it can provide peace of mind that, even though risk cannot be avoided someone will be alerted and know if there is a problem.
Informing relatives as well as those affected as to how technology could enhance the life of a vulnerable or isolated person is also an important challenge. It is a fact that older people will listen and take more heed of the voice of a grandchild more than any other family member. How could we use that to help support and prompt people who may have short term memory issues?
One area of technology that perhaps is being under-utilised is the use of the internet and mobile phone technology to help with the social isolation aspect of vulnerability.
What is out there to help connect families who are geographically apart?
How can older people be encouraged to use technology? How can it be made simpler? How can they access it more easily?
It would be nice to be able to provide technology to bring remote families closer together to allow geographical boundaries to be brought down by technological communication that is easy to use and that could perhaps be lead at one end and just received at the other end.
All of these challenges are important and relevant to improving the quality of life and care of those older and vulnerable people within our society.
The City of York Council Telecare service is now well established with over 1300 customers currently benefitting from some sort of telecare sensor. Lots more information on this service can be found at: http://www.york.gov.uk/health/Services_for_older_people/telecare/.
We routinely now offer some home safety devices to Warden Call customers (smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and bogus caller buttons). Other customers have more complex packages of technology installed in their homes to facilitate and support traditional care packages.
Care Managers, Occupational Therapists and GPs regularly refer in to the service to provide equipment as part of a commissioned care package or to provide additional support to prevent the need for a move to residential care. We are about to start a project with a local pharmacy to be able to dispense medication into telecare devices which will alert the customer to when they are required to take their medication.
The Council have worked with Safer at York to follow up any Bogus Caller alerts to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable customers and has invested money in order to provide equipment free of charge to as many customers who require it.
Funding for equipment is already available. City of York Council have already agreed to spend £250k every year for the next 4 years to be able to provide this type of equipment in the knowledge that it will help reduce risks in some cases and reduce the need for care in other cases.
Although much as this funding is already earmarked for specific use, it is possible that funding could be provided for a small pilot if the right technology was available to help support our desire to reduce social isolation. Or if anyone could suggest a way to promote the service that exists in such a way as to encourage family members and carers to request more information or to give us complicated scenarios to work through so as to enhance the service we already provide.
City of York Council are committed to continue to provide a quality telecare service to the citizens of York – what we are looking for in this Challenge are new ideas as to how we provide the service, how we can be more effective at telling people about the service and how we can maximise technology to help bring people closer together.