Elderly care is a both crucial and expensive part of healthcare. The industry has learned that keeping elders at home as long as possible can cut wasted resources and costs drastically. The moment you move individuals into an assisted living home, all-new costs related to daily life must added. Food, furniture, cooks, repairmen, drivers, community services, and everything in between must be taken care of. Now, service providers are enlisting tech tools to make home care more efficient and safer than ever.
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It’s often assumed that service providers will be low on funds and low on resources. This is why healthcare and service providers are regularly looking to make the very most of the tools available. Here’s how technology is changing the way they work.
Every elderly care patient is an individual. They have specific needs and requirements. Every nurse or caregiver will also have their own defining abilities and traits. That means someone must carefully pair each nurse with each patient when scheduling. The result is an often laborious process that simply can’t be done away with.
However, by enlisting smarter platforms, this can be largely automatized. No more overwhelming Excel sheets--just an up-to-date schedule based on patient, nurse, and other data. This means individuals originally assigned to scheduling can be put to better use elsewhere.
Security in healthcare is paramount. The same is true in elderly home care. Caregivers will be carrying numerous physical files each day, and the possibility that these become lost is very real. This isn’t just a matter of losing the data recorded on those sheets, it also means very personal data could end up in the wrong hands.
By making files digital and accessible by mobile, home care service providers can help their nurses and managers. For managers, there’s no longer a worry that this data can end up physically scattered in the streets. It is, however, up to the service provider to ensure that their customers feel their digital data is safe. There are several ways this can be managed and should not be a major blocker.
For nurses, mobile-accessible files also give the option to record updates digitally. Information on how the patient is behaving and feeling can be recorded much more easily. Instant access to relevant patient files also means no longer having to rummage for or lug around physical files.
Similar to the above point, physical keys can be a liability for home care providers.
Should files be lost, that data could be in danger.
Should keys be lost, that patient could be in danger.
In both scenarios, it’s a huge headache for the provider that must be immediately remedied. Of course, when it comes to home care, actual entry access is required. There’s no way around it.
Technology, however, is making keys and entry access safer. Many assisted living facilities may opt for something like Bluetooth beacons paired with an app. Similarly, home care providers can use Bluetooth and other tracking tools to keep tabs on their physical keys. By attaching tracking devices to these physical key rings, managers can have more confidence these assets will be returned and nurses need not worry about losing their daily equipment.
Perhaps the most crucial and also well-known use of technology in elderly home care is fall alerts. There are several types of alert systems already available. The one-click necklace or bracelet that alerts doctors is now famous among families and providers. Of course, these tools can also be clunky and dated. This is where new technology comes in, and it’s making changes in all kinds of ways.
First, the bracelets. The big, uncomfortable bracelets elderly patients have been subjected to for decades are finally get less annoying. Better technology means providers can make the tool smaller or less rigid. They become easier-to-wear and easier to use. Plus, GPS, motion sensors, and others are being integrated into these bracelets to bring new automated capabilities.
On the other side of the spectrum, technology is drastically changing home care by revamping how we think about fall alerts. Tools like Alexa and other voice control systems are also helping those who fall. Through different channels, these systems are able to allow the elderly to alert others about their situation just by speaking.
Yet another part of the home care solution provider’s job includes proving compliance to any regulations and taking care of their staff. How can a provider be absolutely certain their staff is performing each task in a timely manner? For situations like elderly care, stringent adherence to schedules and rules isn’t just important legally, it’s crucial for the patient.
Here’s another place Bluetooth beacons and other proximity-aware solutions come in handy. By using technology to verify the nurse or caregiver’s location, providers know their customers are getting the right care.
Moving forward with home care
The most important factor for each of these use cases is clear focus on the end result. Because healthcare providers are often low on excess funds—and usually have complicated hoops to jump through when purchasing—knowing exactly what you hope to get out of a solution is crucial. A good ROI will relate directly to how well the solution solves a problem.
For home care, as for assisted living, there are plenty of ways IoT can provide a better standard of living without breaking the bank. It will be up to solution providers to clearly outline how their solutions will lead to good returns without infringing on any security or data rights.