Care technology

Five technology trends improving resident care

Tony Fossella, wi-fi solutions architect at Bedford-based Cable Management Warehouse, provides a useful overview of wi-fi-enabled technologies available to care homes

Voice and data communication technologies are quickly moving to the core of nursing and care home operations. Staff increasingly rely on network-connected devices, such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones to manage all the facility’s operations from finances to maintenance. In addition, portable phones are

essential for managing everyday tasks such as resident healthcare, housekeeping, security, and emergency response, so voice technologies will remain a key necessity for years to come. Through virtual services, senior

care facilities are turning to network- connected devices to improve resident care by providing more automated services that enable staff to work more efficiently. Now more than ever, care homes need a reliable and scalable communications infrastructure to fully deploy and leverage the benefits of these technologies.

1 - Wearables Wearables include things attached to, carried by, or worn on the body that can collect data and send a constant, real-time stream of information back to

a source. In a home, these sensors can include the below. l Health monitors can track vital signs, blood pressure, pulse rate, and temperature, and alert care staff if a change requires medical attention.

l Wrist-worn devices indicate if a resident is sitting, standing, or lying down, and potentially alert care staff if a resident is up in the middle of the night. Location trackers are especially critical for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

l Wearables also collect data that can be provided to family members who may live far away and are unable to visit regularly. These devices help them stay involved in their loved one’s care by tracking their health status and other indicators to ensure the resident is receiving a high quality of care.

2 – The internet of things (IoT) IoT devices can include the devices mentioned above, but also any device that has connective ability. In assisted living, IoT can help improve quality of life by generating data that enables staff to better predict care needs. Many commercial sensors can trigger voice

message alerts and texts to notify staff about a safety or medical issue that requires attention. In addition to improving health and

safety, smart home and smart building technologies can automatically monitor and regulate HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and lighting systems, which can ultimately help reduce costs through increased energy efficiency. IoT devices include sensors such as

lighting and electrical sensors, which can automatically turn lights on and off to ensure safe movement and appropriate lighting day or night. They can also be configured to conserve energy during non-peak usage times or remotely shut down if needed. In a recent care home study, it was

found that lighting alone consumes more than 40 per cent of a healthcare facility’s electricity usage. By employing automated sensors, care homes can reduce these costs through improved energy efficiency and long-term budget savings.

3 - Telemedicine Healthcare providers are constantly looking for new ways to care for seniors while controlling the rising costs of medical services. Telemedicine has emerged as a promising way to bring care to seniors who may have mobility impairments or other challenges that make it difficult to travel to appointments. For instance, many in-office

appointments can be just as easily handled using high-definition video and healthcare apps that transmit vital signs such as a resident’s blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, or certain symptoms a resident may be experiencing. With telemedicine, caregivers and family members can also virtually participate in doctor visits or hospital rounds instead of

June 2021 • 19


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