How smart tech can improve patient wellbeing in care homes?

Has your care home adapted to the world today and is your tech infrastructure up to date? 

These are questions that any care provider should be asking. 

The last year has been tough for many but for care homes it has been particularly hard. Even without a pandemic, resources are stretched throughout the care continuum.  

The UK population is ageing. People are living longer and the demand for patient care is only increasing. There are now 3.2 million people over the age of 80 in the UK. 

The number of people aged 85 and over is expected to almost double by the year 2041. The challenges facing care homes are only going to increase.  

Covid-19 has added further challenges and has highlighted many pre-existing issues. Indeed, it was estimated that around 1.4 million older people lacked the care and support they need, even before the pandemic. Fortunately, tech has the answer. There are a number of easy to use solutions that will make carers lives easier, reduce costs and improve quality of life for those in care. 

First, let’s look at the problems we’re trying to overcome. 

 

What Are The Main Challenges Care Homes Face? 

Reliance On Reactive Care 

Care patients living at a dedicated nursing home or being seen at their houses, are looked after on a reactive basis. 

The patient to staff ratio is heavily imbalanced, meaning the number of visitations required for each staff member is high. 

All diagnosis of health problems happens from in-person visits and relies on getting accurate and up to date information. As such carers end up reacting to issues as and when they’re noticed. 

Instead of pre-empting problems, issues are left to be dealt with further down the line and therefore create more strain on healthcare workers. 

 

Patient Information Isn’t The Best Data 

There’s also the added issue of staff being reliant on qualitative patient data.  

Their diagnoses are based almost entirely on the descriptions those patients give them. These can be highly unreliable, especially when poor mental health is added to the equation. 

The fact staff have got to be there in person to collect this information only adds further delay to diagnosis and resultant action. 

It simply isn’t the most accurate or efficient way of getting the necessary data. 

 

There’s A Loneliness Epidemic 

One issue that has come to more people’s attention in recent years is the effect that loneliness has on mental health, particularly amongst the elderly.  

This will have increased during a pandemic which has seen many confined to their homes and unable to see loved ones.  

If technology is not properly configured or let down by poor internet connection, it can be a further barrier to experiencing the relationships they so desperately need. 

 

Stretched Resources And Costs 

An increase in the number of elderly patients in this country isn’t necessarily met by bed capacity and care home facilities. 

All of this comes at a cost and beds in hospitals are at a premium.

This causes a big strain on all levels of care. Wherever possible patients need to live at home as there just isn’t space for them to use the current facilities.  

 

What Tech Solutions Are Available? 

Fear not, there are solutions to these problems. They not only reduce the strain on workers but will have long term financial benefits too.  

So, what have we got? 

 

Patient Monitoring 

Monitoring patients through ambient sensors and wearable technology is the way forward.  

Ambient sensors give carers and healthcare workers greater insight into the condition of their patients without having to visit them directly. Sensors around their usual environment can pick up changes in their routine and abnormal actions. 

A helpful kind of sensor is the air quality sensor. These are more important than ever due to the threat of Covid-19. Poor air quality has been proven to increase the spread of the virus so monitoring the airflow in a room could have major health implications.  

The use of doors, kettles and more can be monitored and you can even have fall detection radars. This information obviously allows carers to know something is wrong and react immediately but it also allows them to pre-empt illnesses.  

Wearable fit-bit style devices can monitor heart rate, temperature changes and blood pressure. 

Being able to track patterns and changes in behaviour results in a more proactive approach and avoids friction down the line. 

 To add to that, this information can be recorded remotely! Manhours are not as stretched and patients can maintain independent home living for longer, meaning space is saved in care homes. 

 

Bringing This Information Into One Place 

These patient monitoring devices work in tandem with a state-of-the-art health operating system, which allow workers to collate this data and act more efficiently.  

All the info about a patient can be brought together on one interface so that insights and responses can be made. Actions can be taken before serious consequences occur and the strain on the health system can be reduced.  

 

Better Wireless Internet Connectivity 

A simple change that can be made in your facility is better wireless internet connectivity.  

If you don’t currently have good Wi-Fi and the necessary hardware to allow residents to interact with loved ones, it’s time to make a change. 

Simply being able to connect with people without interference could be hugely beneficial for people in your care and could delay the onset of dementia.  

There’s also the flexibility provided by having a fully connected building. More and more devices are going to connect to the internet as time goes on including many that you can make use of. Having the infrastructure in place now will enable you to assimilate new devices cheaply and quickly. 

 

Is Your Care Home Equipped? 

All of this tech is perfectly accessible and easily installed.  

Fortunately, you don’t have to look far to find any of the things we’ve mentioned. We work with care providers to futureproof their systems and internet. We also provide IoT devices such as sensors and wearables that use data to improve quality of life for patients. 

If you want to know more about how we can help you, get in touch today.