THE world of hi-tech and the Internet – when it works and when it’s not being hacked – is rapidly changing people’s lives.
But despite the millions of pounds being spent on developing ways to make life easier and safer for disabled people and carers, it seems the message just isn’t getting through.
Earlier this month some ingenious hi-tech gadgets were showcased at the annual AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards – ranging from devices that help chemotherapy patients manage their treatment to new smartphone apps that can immediately alert carers, family and friends of an emergency.
Products like these really do have the potential to revolutionise people’s lives.
But a new survey says that millions of carers across the UK are missing out on this kind of technology.
And it’s mainly because they simply don’t know about what devices are available, how they can use them, and whether they are affordable.
The new report from national charity Carers UK says only three in ten of carers online turned to technology to help them with health care.
But when told of the technology that can help them, seven in ten said they would use it – if it was affordable.
Those aged 45 – 54, the age people are most likely to be a carer, and those over 55, were less likely than other age groups to be using technology to support with care.
And men were significantly less likely (25%) than women (33%) to use health and care technology.
Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “With more and more of us taking on caring responsibilities, it’s astounding there’s been no increase in the numbers embracing the support that health and care technology can bring.
“From keeping up with relatives on Skype, using a Sat Nav to get around to selling our things on Ebay, we use technology in so many parts of our lives; so why not for care?
“We want everyone, whether they’re caring at the moment or not, to be better informed about the growing potential of technology to support them with a caring role – giving them peace of mind, enabling them and those they care for more choice and freedom and the ability to remain in work, stay in touch with friends or simply have an essential break to recharge.
“Simple phone apps and products that support carers’ wellbeing, reduce anxiety and help organise care, can make a big difference to coping or not as a carer.”
There are a number of technology-enabled products and services that can help manage caring and can support the person you look after. These include:
- Monitors and sensors that can alert you or a 24/7 monitoring centre of a fall, fire, gas or a flood and can reassure that someone is up and about.
- GPS tracking, exit sensors or location devices to alert you if someone with dementia wanders outside the home.
- Vital sign monitors help track blood glucose, blood pressure and blood oxygen, or they can monitor heart rate and sleep patterns.
- Medication management systems that can help someone remember their regime and alert you when someone hasn’t taken their medication.
- Apps that can help with coordinating care, monitor health and mental health, help with treatment and rehabilitation or help manage a condition.
Carers UK helpline 0808 808 7777