A Bright Future

Louise Rogerson, chartered neurophysiotherapist and Director of Service Development for Intelesant, discusses factors affecting nurse call systems and the importance of digital innovation for future care.

As a clinician, it has become evident that available technologies are rarely utilised within nurse call systems.

Nurse call systems mostly work on a single action; namely that the patient presses the button if they need help. Ideally nurses would receive a message to a mobile device that could offer a level of urgency, or the type of need, that would help them deal with several calls in the most appropriate order. The need for this is very clear when you compare wards with bays and wards with individual rooms. In bays, the staff can quickly see what is happening with four or six patients at a time and prioritise accordingly, for the individual rooms this would involve checking each room with a call and then considering how to prioritise.

Pendant alarms in people's own homes are often used in an emergency, but it is recognised that for many of these emergencies earlier action may have prevented them from occurring.

Howz That? Intelesant’s latest development, Howz, is an app that monitors energy usage, linking to patterns of daily activity which are identified by non-invasive multi-sensors tracking heat, light and movement. The data

is fed into live updates within the app’s interface to provide a running commentary on daily activity which supports the identification of changes that can lead to crises in the home.

Using an app to share the information with the individual and their care network supports early intervention. The network can include the family as well as formal agencies, thus widening the net of those that can take action.

Handling Tricky Situations Patient handling is another challenging area with a complex range of expectations. It is vital that any ability the patient has is maximised within each movement, and this may change from hour to hour. Patients living independently tend to achieve more when their carer is away – though it is worrying about the risks they’ve taken to do it. The introduction of aids and adaptations are often challenging for individuals and so it is key that they are part of the conversation in selecting the aid whenever possible – including the assessment of risk for all concerned.

Systems such as Howz give the control back to the individual, allowing them to notify their network

that they’re physically active by a simple action such as switching on the kettle. It also allows the caregiver an opportunity to monitor the individual’s activity more closely, in a non-invasive way. Data provided can then be used to prescribe a more accurate and suitable programme of care and exercise that’s more achievable for the individual.

As further pressures are placed on caregiving bodies, more trial schemes with technology are being adopted. These systems provide a multitude of benefits including earlier notification for illnesses that can be treated by ambulatory care services, potentially reducing hospital admissions that occur when these are left undetected.

It is crucial that modern nurse call systems deliver more detailed patient data, to allow for better patient handling and more effective treatment with patients. The good news is that this technology is already available and there are some really innovative trials happening set to lead to a brighter future for both patient and caregiver. - 43 -

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