Changes in approach to elderly
Technology will be key to care homes
Stable and sustainable environments are under increasing demand to provide the elderly with long-term living arrangement that offer support and care.
However, industry experts worry that the future of care homes is uncertain as government funding is under pressure.
Royal Blind, which provides care homes in Paisley, assesses how these homes will be run in the years ahead, and the technologies that will revolutionise the way people are cared for.
Quality is key
Within the next 20 years, care homes will focus on quality in their ethos – whether they are private or publicly funded – because this strategy has the potential for people to ‘live healthier and longer lives’, as Jane Ashcroft suggested in the Silver Chic report in the future of care homes.
Housing will be designed on a turntable to help expose the residents to sunlight for the longest periods of time possible.
Connectivity will be a priority to help combat loneliness. To do this, care villages will use small bridges intersecting various gardens so that residents will be closer to their natural environment and other residents in the community.
Technology is helping to ensure that patients remain safe within care homes while allowing them to live longer, healthier and more sustainable lives.
Safety sensors are now being fitted into rooms and systems that alert staff when a patient has fallen, or when they have stopped moving. To help those living with dementia, clusters within buildings can be coloured variously with different lighting so that they are able to recognise their own living quarters.
For medication administrations, technology can now be used to ensure patients take their medication when they need it. Sensor technologies can also be swallowed when combined with drugs in pill form. Once the pill has been swallowed and dissolved in the stomach, a signal is transmitted, and data can be sent to a smartphone app.
This allows patients and clinicians to establish how well patients are adhering to their medication; if they aren’t taking well to a certain type of medication, then this can be rectified as early as possible and the medication can be changed to benefit the patient’s health and needs.
Other versions of this technology, include an automated dosage system developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whereby a small implantable device can release medication from inside the body, controlled by an embedded microchip. What this means, is that for people with long-term conditions – or for women on contraception, dosages can be given for up to ten years without patients having to physically induce medication.
Aside from being used within medication dosages, sensors can also be used to help track behaviours. Computer programs are now being designed so that these types of technologies then, are specifically designed to ensure patient comfort, and help to guarantee their safety while living in care.
An emphasis on independence
The majority of the older generation want to keep a hold of their independence for as long as they can. However, when people live within the care system, they can begin to feel as though they’ve lost a sense of independence. Technologies of the future are enabling those with specific care requirements to live their life in a more self-sufficient way.
To monitor heart rates, steps and distance covered, patients can now receive wearable technologies. In the future, they hope that they will help to monitor fluid retention and respiratory rates, helping to lower hospital admissions, allowing patients to understand their own symptoms more effectively before they require medical assistance. Known as hospital-level diagnostics in the home, portable x-ray machines and blood-testing kits alongside other technologies provide those who require care with a better quality of life by giving them the independence to self-diagnose themselves without having to leave their homes or point of care.
Robotic technology is in the pipeline to hopefully support elderly patients suffering from dementia. The robotics technology will be used to help calm down sufferers who have to deal with extreme stress – used within robotic pets, it will respond to human touch and respond in intelligent ways.
Furthermore, the technology will be engineered to support patients in everyday general tasks – from helping patients get in and out of bed, whilst wearable robotic suits will be used to help sufferers from arthritis stand and walk. They will also help those with severe mobility problems get around more comfortably. Within a patient’s room, robotically controlled curtains alongside voice commands that also control lights, and other devices, will be used to help those who are blind and have visual impairments.
Our care homes still have a long way to go, but the future is looking promising – and there appears to be more support for both staff and patients.
The technologies that are already being utilised, and the systems that are being proposed, will help patients lead more independent and comfortable lives so that they can live a happier and healthier life for longer.
This article is supplied under the terms of the DB Direct Service