The strain on the NHS and health services is becoming increasingly apparent. Services within the health and social care sectors are demanding more personalisation – which means new skills and relationship building and in some cases a complete rethink of the organisation’s delivery model. So how can social enterprises and charities help support and in some cases replace the delivery of these services?
Charities and social enterprises have a long history of influencing and supporting the delivery of health and social care. Their holistic view of an individual’s needs means that they can signpost to other areas of support within the community that will enrich the life of the individual rather than simply delivering a singular service with a single aim in mind. This isn’t just true of older people who require help to live independently but anybody who may need some extra support; for instance individuals with learning difficulties who need extra support to enable them to live alone for the first time.
The holistic approach that charitable organisations take not only puts individuals in contact with relevant support groups and grants but also overcomes the issue of isolation in the community.
Mobiles Made Easy offer an assistive technology solution that makes use of the cloud infrastructure and mobile devices to enable people to maintain contact with and support their ageing relatives from a distance. Telecare systems are available from a wide number of people, however what makes us unique is the relationship with the charity sector; ensuring that individuals needs are considered from every aspect. As well as promoting independent living for older or disabled people, We ease the pressures faced by those individuals who are struggling to care for ageing parents at the same time as raising their own children; known as the sandwich generation.
As we move towards the era of patient-centred services, social enterprises and charities may be called upon further. They already do so much to support key organisations and deliver social value but charities and social enterprises may have an even bigger role to play – as natural partners to the NHS and future shapers of the care industry.
With people now living longer and more women having children at a later stage in their life, an increasing number of middle aged people are caring for their ageing parents at the same time as raising and supporting their own children.
As they are effectively ‘sandwiched’ between their duty to support their own children, who need emotional, physical and financial support, and their obligation to care for their ageing parents, who may be unwell, or unable to perform various tasks or look after themselves properly, this generation of middle-aged parents are often known as the ‘sandwich generation’. Due to longer life-spans and people starting families later, this generation is growing, with around a fifth of 45-60 year-olds actively supporting their parents whilst their children are still at home.
In many cases, individuals of the sandwich generation also have a career to focus on. This combined with their own personal issues, caring for their parents and children can understandably put them under a considerable amount of stress. Often, caregivers don’t have a sufficient amount of time to be able to look after themselves properly.
So what help can be given to the sandwich generation?
A lot of people feel a constant sense of worry about their elderly parent’s well being when they are not with them, often combined with fears that they aren’t spending enough time fulfilling the needs of their children. For members of the sandwich generation, the phone ringing can fill them with a sense of dread of what may be on the other end of the line.
An initiative that is designed to take some of the strain away from the sandwich generation is the MME App. This is an assistive technology that uses a cloud infrastructure and mobile devices to allow people to be able to maintain contact with and support their ageing relatives even from a distance. By giving them reassurance that all is well with their parents or other relatives, MME allows people of the sandwich generation to achieve a balance in all the different elements in their lives.
How does the MME App work?
MME uses GSM mobile compatible products to communicate with an online cloud-based database. This allows telecare products to be interconnected and information to be transferred to the right individuals and authorities immediately. MMe allows both relatives of people who need additional support, as well as healthcare professionals to be in subliminal contact with those that they care for, even from a distance.
As well as promoting the ideal of elderly or disabled people to continue living independently, MME helps to ease the pressures faced on a daily basis by the sandwich generation. Please contact us if you would like more information on this initiative.
The healthcare industry is heading towards a digital revolution, not quite at the speed that some other technology-embracing sectors may be, but none the less the future of health care is definitely a digital one. The future is in no doubt, what we could question however is who is going to make sure that this technology is utilised by the individuals that need it most – who will drive engagement that moves beyond the commercials to the social benefit of usage?
Consider the web-based services that give people easy and quick access to health advice and support, the devices that enable people to monitor health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension at home, or the fact that you can now make appointments with your GP online, even hold a consultation via video conference. You only have to scratch the surface to see the impact digital technology is having on the healthcare industry already.
With more and more digital integration there comes a series of challenges – how to ensure these are not just pockets of innovation but change in the industry as a whole, how to put the user in control and ensure the technology is fit for purpose, and how to get these digital solutions to the people who need them the most?
One of the more obvious mediums for delivery is the charity sector. Well placed with their community contacts to identify those sections of the population that will benefit most from digital health solutions. Charities can help to ensure that assistive solutions are part of a holistic approach – integrating all of the resources available to a person, to build a package suitable for the individual. This holistic approach will be critical in the process of balancing practical needs of an individual with their social and emotional needs. Charities are often organisations that evoke the greatest sense of trust and this is essential to instil confidence in first time technology users, therefore charities should play a significant role in the roll out of digital healthcare.
Projects such as the Mobiles Made Easy initiative, provide the perfect example of delivering a digital solution to the members of society that will benefit from it most. MME enables individuals to continue living in the way that they wish, providing their families and carers with the peace of mind that their loved ones are safe. Making use of the cloud infrastructure and mobile devices, it will allow people to stay in contact with and monitor their elderly or vulnerable relatives, even from a great distance.
It ticks the boxes in terms of putting the user in control as it not only delivers peace of mind to families but gives those elderly or vulnerable individuals more freedom and independence. Without the technology they may be facing a future of permanent, long term residential care.
The digital healthcare revolution will also ease the burden on an over-stretched healthcare industry, by implementing virtual solutions that enable one person to monitor more than one patient at once, or handing back more care responsibilities to the patient’s relatives or friends.
None of us know what the future may bring but with the support of charities and community initiatives, the fantastic digital products and services that are being developed can be deployed on a larger scale.
There is no denying that our lives are impacted by the technology around us. Even if you are not interested in the latest gadgets, the fact that technology is advancing continually at an ever-increasing pace means none of us can escape its influence forever.
Technology is doing things now that we could never have imagined a few years ago. Take for example the Google Glass.
Who would have thought you could wear a computer like a pair of glasses and communicate with it using voice commands? Now with Google Glass you can make calls, take photos, listen to music and surf the net, all hands free – which enables people to multitask and delivers huge benefits to those with impairments.
And what about GPS or Bluetooth enabled insoles? These clever products feature embedded tracking chips that send signals to a monitoring website enabling people to keep track of their vulnerable loved ones such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or children with autism.
These examples of Assistive technology show how the development of gadgetry is being used to help people in their everyday lives and deliver a better experience for those with disabilities or vulnerabilities.
It shows the wider role that technology has to play in shaping the future of the care industry, for instance.
Whether this is a long term solution for individuals who need additional care or a shorter term answer for people who want to gain their independence but need some back up whilst they start out.
Mobiles Made Easy is one example of an assistive technology project that will deliver better care for those in need by enabling them to stay in their own homes for longer and lead more independent lives. This initiative enables individuals to continue living in the way that they wish and provides their families and carers with the peace of mind that their loved ones are safe. Through use of the cloud infrastructure and mobile devices, individuals can maintain contact and support their relatives even from great distances.
Using technology to assist an ageing population not only brings peace of mind to families but it eases the burden on the care profession.
These are just a few examples of the unusual ways in which technology is shaping our lives. Who knows where it will take us in the future, but it promises to be a brighter one.