Traditionally most telecare, and now ‘technology enabled care services’ (TECS), focused on managing the risks associated with living in the community when people were older or requiring support. TECS helped people to ‘age in place’ at home when discharged from hospital or when living alone following a bereavement. These devices and services were often reactive, creating an alert in emergency situations, either relying on the person triggering an alarm or the system automatically detecting changes in the home environment. There is now a distinct shift in approach in the UK from reactive to proactive and preventative services. Technologies are becoming ‘smarter’ and better able to relay information captured through a wider array of sensors and ‘Internet of Things’ devices. The design of services around the technology is also developing, using data gathered in more predictive and preventative ways as well as shifting towards ‘proactive’, in-bound calling systems. There is also a growing interest in mainstream devices and the role they can play in supporting people to live well in their communities and homes.
Findings from the Sustainable Care programme research from the University of Sheffield and from the TSA’s experience of engaging with the sector highlighted examples of local authorities and councils exploring and investing in TECS for prevention, taking a proactive approach as well as being focused on the wellbeing of those receiving support. The TSA has also observed in the past 12 months a rapidly growing appetite for more proactive services, both from adult social care commissioners and also people receiving support and their carers. However, this has been met with varying levels of technical service maturity and challenges, including issues related to interoperability, workforce pressures and limited capacity for analysis of the vast amounts of data generated and evidence-based decision making.
In this first episode of the Sustainable Care and TSA 'Digital Care Futures' podcast, Kate Hamblin (University of Sheffield) and Nathan Downing (TSA) spoke to guests from two examples of services which take a proactive and preventative approach.