Technology and Carers
In today’s world, advances in technology have changed the way we do things, for example shopping online and the way we communicate with each other by email and text.
Did you know that there are technologies which could also help the person you care for and make your caring role a little easier?
Technology can help to provide a greater piece of mind and allow you to carry out day to day tasks without worry, it can provide a means to continue with employment, relieve stress and can also help to keep yourself healthy and can help promote a good work-life-care balance.
Below are some examples and at the bottom of this article is a list of further reading and useful resources.
Telecare and Adaptions
Personal Alarms are the most frequently used form of technology for carers. They come in many different forms and they allow a person to let others know when they are in need. The most common device is one worn either around the neck or the wrist and consists of a simple push button. Pushing this button then alerts someone that the individual is in need. There are various ways this can be done and it is important to make use of the correct alarm system for your caring role.
Audible alarm – The most basic form of alarm is an audible alarm from the device itself. This means that someone in another room of the house can be alerted.
Direct alert to carer – The device can be linked to a receiving device.This means that the carer can also wear a linked device so that wherever they are they can be alerted.
Monitored device – This is a service which means that once the alert button is pressed a central team is notified that a problem exists. They can then ensure that the appropriate action is taken which could be contacting the carer, visiting the patient or alerting the emergency services.
Sensors are similar to alarms but are usually attached to a piece of equipment rather than the person and does not necessarily need to be manually activated by someone
Bed/Chair Sensors are pads which you place either on a chair or under the sheet of a bed. When they sense that the person is attempting to stand the carer is alerted by an audible alarm.
Alternatively, if you want to be alerted specifically when a person has left their bed you can place pressure pads by the side if their bed. When someone leaves their bed, and stands on the pressure pad the carer can be alerted.
Property Exit Sensors can be used when somebody is unable to leave the house unattended or if they have left the house at an inappropriate time. They work in a similar way to personal alarms in that they will notify the carer when the alarm is triggered. They work by installing a sensor in the door which can monitor when the door is opened and closed.
Fall Sensors are worn around the neck, on the wrist or carried in a pouch. It can detect when the wearer has fallen, by sensing sudden jolts or senses that the wearer is not standing vertically. Once a fall has been detected it produces an alert in the same way as a personal alarm to ensure that the appropriate care is provided as quickly as possible.
There are many ways that technology can help to improve your own personal health or help to monitor the health of the person you care for. Telehealth is about supporting people with health conditions to manage their health in a more proactive way. The systems are intended to complement rather than replace traditional health care, and to empower the individual to self-manage. It can reduce the frequency of check-ups at the doctor’s, ensure that issues are dealt with quickly and prevent escalation of problems that may otherwise result in a hospital admission.
Diabetes - Glucometers - If the person you care for experiences problems due to unstable Diabetes, you may be eligible for an ‘at home glucometer’. This device can record blood glucose levels and share this information automatically with your clinical team. This means that you can create a well-informed care plan with appropriate interventions where necessary. Your local GP will be able to determine if this is available in your area.
Heart Rate and Blood Pressure Monitors - If the person you care for has suffered from Heart Failure you may be eligible for a heart rate and/or blood pressure monitor. This device can take heart rate and blood pressure measurements from your home. This enables clinical staff to monitor the condition and react quickly to changes. Speak to your GP, who can advise you if your local area provides this service.
Medicine Management - These devices remind the person to take their medication. They can also issue the correct dosage at the right time. Many modern devices have safety locks to prevent over medicating. Alerts can be sent to you (and other contacts) when the medication has not been taken.
An app is a mini programme that is installed on your mobile or table. There are over 1 million apps available, some designed for entertainment, some for information and others to try and help make your life easier.
Before downloading an app, you should make sure your are only using trusted sources, eg google play or i-store. Check whether there is a charge for using some of the features on the app. Review your privacy settings after downloading the app. Finally do some research and look at reviews on the products through your app store or on review websites.
You may need to have a play around with a few free apps to start with to see which one is best for you.
Here are some examples of useful apps, click on the name to find out more:
Jointly is an app developed by Carers UK that makes caring for someone a little easier, less stressful and a lot more organised by making communication and coordination between those who share the care as easy as a text message. It costs £2.99
Doro connect & care is very similar to the Jointly app but for those who already have the Doro products. Doro is the supplier of easy to use mobile phones. The Doro connect & care app may be very helpful for you. It allows you to create a network of care (like Jointly) and create a private network to send photos and messages. It has GPS built into the app enabling remote management of smart-phone plus see the movement of the person, create to do lists and the ‘panic button’.
My House of Memories is an app that allows you to explore objects from the past and share memories together. It can be used by anyone, but has been designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their carers. Designed by National Museums Liverpool, My House of Memories lets you browse through objects from across the decades, brought to life with multimedia. You can reminisce together about a range of everyday objects, from school life to sport.
One of the great features of this app is that someone living with dementia can use it to create their own memory tree where they can save their favourite objects, photos, video and look at them whenever they wish. This memory tree can then be shared with only the people you'd like to share it with.
Pill Reminder and Medication Tracker by Medisafe allows you to add a medication, get reminders for taking pills, and receive constant tracking of your health progress. You can add your family member’s medications or have a caregiver manage your meds as prescribed. You can also track measurements such as blood pressure and weight
One You is a website run by Public Health England offering advice and information on leading a healthy life. They offer 6 free apps to help you including how to quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption and becoming more active.
Below are some other websites you may find useful:
TSA is the industry body for technology enabled care (TEC) services, representing over 350 organisations. Their website is full of information about available technology including a "find a service" facility to help you to identify telecare and/or telehealth services for yourself or your family, friends or people you provide care for.
Carers UK have lots of information about technology and how it can help carers and have produced a comprehensive guide called "What Tech can do for you"
Which? Elderly Care has a useful guide for understanding Telecare and Telehealth systems
Age UK have advice on their website about using technology to remain independent and has information about telecare and telehealth products
Unforgettable is a website offering products and advice for those with memory loss.
If you have been recommended, or used technology or apps which you have found useful and would like to share your experience, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.