Why technology has been so important during the pandemic

Featured article - 29 March 2021
By Trevor Salomon, carer and member of the Carers Advisory Panel for Dementia Carers Count

Trevor Salomon, carer and dementia ambassador

I wish I’d known about Zoom and other video conferencing companies before the pandemic struck. Buying shares in a company which helped so many of us survive social isolation would perhaps have provided a really good return on investment.

Technologies, like Zoom, came of age for me after I lost all contact with my wife for the best part of 10 weeks when her care home locked down in March last year. The manager was eventually able to facilitate video calls between all residents and their family members and it was then that the need for high speed broadband and strong reliable wireless connectivity really surfaced.

The care home room of the future

Voice-controlled virtual assistants, such as Alexa, enable residents’ independence; allowing them to listen to music, stream podcasts, play audiobooks, and provide real-time information, such as news. The care home room of the future will need to support them.

Although residents are checked during the night, bed and floor movement sensors in their rooms alert staff when someone attempts to get up to use the toilet or heaven forbid falls out of their bed. Going forwards, assistive technologies like those found in nano pulse pillows will support the monitoring of micro movements and vibrations in breathing and heart beats, keeping staff ahead of potential problems.

Helping optimise staff time

Tablet front-ended software solutions are already in use to optimise staff time in areas such as budgeting, care planning and monitoring, whilst robots in Japanese care settings are being trialled to help lift residents in and out of their beds and wheelchairs.

It seems certain that recent technological innovations in our own residential properties will find their way into the care homes of the future. I’m referring to thermostats such as Nest and Hive, and smart lighting with day-night sleep rhythms especially useful for dementia residents, all tied together via hubs to reduce administrative tasks and give back time to staff which can be devoted towards supporting patients.

I’m confident that applications like Zoom are here to stay, enabling family members and friends who live long distances from their loved ones in care homes to remain in touch.

If only I’d bought those shares...

Trevor's role as a carer sitting on the Carers Advisory Panel for Dementia Carers Count is to support and guide on strategy and operational development.

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