How can technology be used in social care?
Technology is expanding into every part of our lives and in the social care industry it is starting to make an impact. It has long been thought that the two don’t mix, but innovative new solutions can help to manage social care workers and help service users to remain independent.
For paid carers, in such a person-centred role, there is an inordinate amount of admin and paperwork that accompanies each client, whether working on a self-employed basis, for an agency or for an employer. Technology can help to cut down on this by introducing methods to monitor all aspects of patient care in one centralised system that can be easily accessed by others responsible for the care of a client. This helps to ensure that a client’s care is consistent and accounted for.
While these large technological systems are being introduced in care homes and other big organisations, for a self-employed paid carer that are still ways to benefit from such a system. By having a tablet or laptop that can access client records, enable you to amend records as you go and keep a clear record of all services provided, admin is done on the fly, rather than after working hours.
Social media also has a part to play. Residential facilities can post a little about the activities that they are performing, for example, which helps to give a positive public face to a care home; they can engage with local communities to help raise money or communicate events. This can also be useful for the families of residents, as it reassures them. Individual carers can use Facebook, for example, to help promote their services and find new clients.
It is not just social care workers who can benefit from technology, however. The service users can reap the rewards, and the latest innovations can help them to stay independent in their own homes for as long as possible. These range from simple home help devices that make common tasks more manageable (see more on telecare, telehealth and home aids on our dedicated page) to more advanced monitoring systems. In an article in The Guardian, examples included blood pressure and oxygen level monitoring, giving easy access to help if there is a need, reducing visits to A&E just to see if there is a problem.
Smartphones are much more affordable and there are plenty of apps aimed at the older generation, that can help them with daily tasks or help them communicate their needs. There are pill reminder apps that set off an alarm at scheduled intervals, for example, or even simply things like Skype, to enable people to communicate with video, which could help with loneliness.
Dedicated care apps and services are popping up too. HomeTouch (available on Android) lets families, service users and care workers create and monitor all aspects of a care plan – including goal setting, mood tracking and medication reminders. It also has photo sharing and messaging built in, and is designed to be easy to use.
FutureGov is working on a number of technological initiatives that will help to transform social care in the future. For example, Lantern will be on online, easy-to-use social care assessment, guiding people through their daily life to highlight need and present a personalised list of relevant services. Those with higher needs can have their form passed on to the right social services department for further assessment.
There is plenty of technology already out there, but it is not always easy to find and make accessible to those that would benefit from it, however the tide seems to be turning and we’re sure that technology’s role in social care is just about to rise.