Assistive technology

will make care provided by staff more proactive and predictive, and address future health and care challenges, such as another pandemic. Technology can enable new models of care by underpinning integration, enabling prevention and proactive care, therefore reducing the demands on our health and care services.

For example, the use of wifi will increase residents’ contact with friends and family, reduce social isolation and provide access to online activities and services which can enhance wellbeing. This is especially important during lockdown where residents are unable to leave the care home, or see their loved ones. Even during social isolation, technology can enable vulnerable people to continue receiving the crucial care and contact they need to live a high quality of life.

Although health and social care professionals are focussed on treating Covid-19 patients and limiting the spread of the virus, there are many vulnerable adults in care who have needs which must still be met.

Round-the-clock access to patient data and early warning systems allow for speedy interventions and avoid the need for more complex and costly care, therefore freeing up our services to tackle the current situation. Technology can also support care home staff and residents by improving the management of medication, which can have a significant positive impact on their health and independence.

That helps to support care homes so that residents don’t have to be transferred to hospital, therefore enabling health workers to care for Covid-19 patients and allowing care home residents to remain independent for longer.

Demonstrating the benefits Tunstall collaborated with NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group, on the latter’s Quest for Quality in Care Homes initiative, which combined telecare and telehealth technology with a multi-disciplinary team to improve the care of residents in care homes, therefore reducing the number of hospital and GP visits, and time in hospital.

The results are impressive: hospital bed days down 68 per cent year on year; GP care-home visits reduced by 45 per cent compared to homes not in the research programme; hospital admissions down 26 per cent year on year; £799,561 in savings from reduced hospital stays; and the number of falls reduced by 18.6 per cent.

This work illustrates how embedding 32

the impact of self-isolation and mitigating the adverse effects of incidents such as falls, by enabling a rapid response. Systems can also be deployed as part of a package of care to enable people to be safely discharged from hospital more quickly, freeing up vital hospital beds.


Progress in technology will benefit a huge number of people, however, health, housing and social care providers need to become more progressive and embrace available opportunities. As we live longer, demands on public services will increase and the impact of the changing health and care landscape needs to be considered.

Professionals must continue exploring how they can improve the support they deliver and the ways in which technology enabled care can help people to live well, later in life.

technology in service delivery can change how health and social care works in real life. It makes the lives of older and more vulnerable people safer and at the same time, helps the NHS and social services free up resources to invest elsewhere.

Further research by Tunstall suggests that should such models of care be implemented across NHS England, the amount of value released into the system would be in the region of £1 billion a year, with estimated savings of 2.5 million bed days.

The next steps

The current public health crisis, which many would consider the worst for a generation, is placing significant pressures on our health, housing and social care services. Technology can support us in addressing the immediate challenges presented by the current emergency, and offer effective resolutions.

Most health and particularly social care systems, have often been established with reaction rather than prevention in mind. It is crucial that there is a shift in this behaviour to enable greater input into development and innovation, and to ensure users are safe and can remain independent, especially during a time of crisis.

Technology solutions can greatly reduce the pressure on the NHS by enabling social care and housing providers to support people effectively. They can prevent admission to hospital by reducing

Gavin Bashar

Tunstall Healthcare UK managing director Gavin Bashar over 27 years’ experience in healthcare. Before joining Tunstall in 2018 he was head of diagnostic imaging reconstruction software outfit Hermes Medical Solutions’ EMEA and APAC businesses. Prior to that he worked at Cutera Inc., and over a 20-year period held various leadership roles within GE Healthcare. • July 2020

Health, housing and social care professionals can also use technology to deliver a robust platform for health and care delivery, connecting people to enable more proactive and preventative care. Investment in technology solutions now will also mean we have a sustainable and scalable network in place should we ever have to face such a crisis again.TCHE


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