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TECHNOLOGY IN CARE


have an important role in supporting safety and increasing independence, installation and management is not a straightforward process, oſten requiring customised installations which can significantly add to the cost.


At Plextek, we are using machine learning technologies to build up holistic pictures of life patterns from relatively simple information about usage of particular electrical appliances. It is an established fact that many of our activities are habitual, and insight into these habits and deviations can provide useful information about physical and mental wellbeing. The benefit of this approach is that the significance of individual anomalous behaviours can be correlated to a particular context. For example, a basic system might trigger an alert if a bedside light is not turned on at a particular time in the morning, whereas a more complex system will recognise that the individual usually stays in bed a little longer on cold and dark mornings.


SUPPORT IN CARE HOMES Historically, staff in care homes have always been heavily engaged in generating huge quantities of paperwork, which oſten detracts from, rather than enables, adequate provision of care. Nowadays, nearly three-quarters of all care organisations use digital technologies


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to plan and record services in real time, enabling the development of centralised electronic records. Illegible documentation can be replaced by electronic care plans that support person-centred care and assist care facilities to more effectively demonstrate and ensure compliance. For example, the tablet-based system developed by Cura Systems provides integrated care planning, medication management, staff planning, notes and time and attendance monitoring soſtware, allowing care givers more time to care for service users.


Many care homes are also extending broadband internet access to their service users, as a simple but effective means to develop a sense of belonging, support and connection. There are a number of systems that support video, chat, email and other online communications, ensuring that service users can quickly and easily connect with relatives, close friends and the community, significantly contributing to an enhanced quality of life.


ELECTRONIC PATIENT


RECORDS (EPR) Paper-based records are becoming increasingly replaced with comprehensive electronic records to facilitate the flow of information throughout the wider healthcare community, including hospitals, medical


practitioners, pharmacies, specialists and other care professionals. At a minimal level, EPR provides the ability for clinicians to view a patient's medical record when and where they need it, with increased legibility and accuracy, without requiring a paper record to be brought or found.


However, the real value is in the establishment of an enterprise system to apply the knowledge, intelligence and experience of a much wider network- for example, to suggest plans of care, support clinical decision-making and act as a double-check to those decisions. This transition will take time but will ultimately lead to improvement in operational efficiency and savings in staff time.


FINAL THOUGHTS Although funding for health and social care services remains a major concern, there is evidence that technological advances are slowly being introduced into the healthcare sector in order to reshape the delivery of care, the exchange of information and the monitoring of conditions.


Embracing technology will undoubtedly bring benefits to the elderly, infirm and ill through the ability to provide more effective and affordable care, allowing increased independence and a better quality of life.


www.plextek.com - 17 -


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