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How Healthcare Technology can be Utilized to help People Remain Independent for Longer

by Helen Dempster(more info)

listed in ageing, originally published in issue 253 - April 2019


It is now well documented and understood that our population would like to remain independent for longer, with 97% of people stating that they’d like to receive care in their own home. But as the challenges associated with supporting an ageing population continue to escalate, it has become more apparent than ever that this generation aren’t being given the care they deserve and need.




From care homes to long hospital stays, more and more elderly people are finding themselves away from the comfort of their own home. This absence is having an incremental impact on their mental health, increasing feelings of distress and discomfort. And while the NHS has pledged that the new government funding will be used to help support the care of older people, in an era of phenomenal technological innovations, it is essential to question how that support could be extended to the delivery of domiciliary care.

We are now at a turning point, a time when technology truly offers the ability to transform the care sector as we know it. But as Helen Dempster, Chief Visionary Officer, Karantis360 explains, it is the effective and intelligent use of this technology across the entire social care ecosystem including carer, patient, family, social and medical services, that will be key to enabling more people to stay in their homes for longer with a better quality of both life and care.

Bridging the Funding Gap

The funding gap in social care - predicted by the Local Government Association to reach £3.5 billion by 2025 - is having a devastating knock on effect on the entire care sector. Services are under extraordinary strain; pressures on carers are mounting and resources are extremely limited. As a result, domiciliary care is no longer a feasible option for many of those who require care. Instead, family members are taking on the role of caring for their loved ones, many with increasingly complex needs - and this number is set to rise, creating huge financial and mental pressures for often geographically distant family members.

Additionally, the funding gap is having a huge impact on the NHS. Thousands of elderly patients are finding themselves stuck in hospital when they are well enough to be at home because there is no support network in place to help look after them. With the cost of delayed discharges now at almost £290 million per year, the chief executive of the health services, Simon Stevens, reported that the equivalent of 36 hospitals were suffering because of a lack of social care.

Add up all these factors and it is clear to see that greater measures need to be taken. While the long term plan from the NHS presents a progressive case for change, doubts about resources still remain. It is not just a case of doing the same things faster. Given the scale of the problem, technology must be leveraged to fundamentally reconsider how resources can be utilized and how the entire social care ecosystem operates.


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Personalized Care

One of the most fundamental roles that technology must play in the future is to enable carers to undertake their primary function: care. This means minimizing the admin burden and releasing carers to spend more time with patients. Carers and nurses are under increasing pressures to meet escalating care needs, and yet are compelled to spend upwards of 20 minutes in a 30 minute patient visit filling in forms. This is a sheer waste of essential time that could be spent interacting with the client. This restriction of one-to-one contact time ultimately limits the quality of care clients can receive in their own homes. In turn, this will have an incremental impact on the client’s happiness, enhancing the possibility of feelings of isolation.

Innovative technology solutions have the capability to take some of the admin stressors off carers. The adoption of easy-to-use apps has proven to reduce administrative time spent by carers by up to 75%. Combining a simple user interface with voice recognition, such an app not only minimizes burden but also makes it easier for carers to record more personal patient information – such as patient mood, important dates including birthdays or the anniversary of a spouse’s death – which can then support a far more personal care experience.

Additionally, this technology ensures the carer’s report is automatically shared with the individual’s family, permitting carers and family members to speak to one another directly. This helps to instil trust across the care ecosystem and improves the levels of domiciliary care received by the client.

And for those not engaging carers, apps with these functionalities can also help family members to monitor their loved ones while allowing both parties the freedom to be independent, but in a safer and more connected capacity. This is an essential way to address one of the huge causes of stress for those tasked with caring for a member of the family, stress that can often lead to time off work or ill health.

Connecting Systems

This solution is only the tip of the iceberg for the care sector. Combing a mobile application with IoT [Internet of Things] sensors provides a greater level of visibility for families and carers, enhancing their ability to provide a high level of quality domiciliary care. By using non-intrusive systems, care providers have the means to monitor their clients 24/7 and respond to their needs quickly and effectively. This constant monitoring enables carers to track their client’s movements and identify changes over time to receive early warning of deteriorating conditions – this insight will support an enhanced personal-care experience,  enabling those with health conditions to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own home, for a longer length of time.

And this insight will not only have huge benefits for carers but will allow other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, paramedics and consultants, to work more effectively. That means hospitals have the chance to rethink the way in which they deliver care, giving those patients who have previously been left frustrated after facing a long stay in hospital, the chance to have a more positive experience. Additionally, a more efficient workflow across the healthcare sector will help to minimize the amount of time elderly people spend in healthcare organizations and maximize the time they spend at home.

Adopting a Proactive Approach

For those who are given the opportunity to receive care in their own homes, privacy is a significant issue. While in a communal area implementation of digital solutions such as CCTV/biometrics is deemed acceptable providing all are in agreement, placing these within personal or private areas begins to cross the line from being informative to intrusive. For those people who wish to receive care in their own home but still require a greater level of oversight, IoT sensors can help ensure private areas can be monitored 24x7. In addition to ensuring privacy, the application of digital solutions in this ethical way will help valuable resources go further, empowering people to remain independent for longer, and provide an overall better quality of life.

Team this technology up with AI and there is even greater opportunity to consider the pathway in an entirely different, holistic manner. These digital solutions will not only help bridge the gap between healthcare professionals and those receiving domiciliary care but will provide every party involved with greater guidance and reassurance. By automatically formulating files and reports so that they can be easily accessed by doctors, this technology will provide those living at home with the immediate support and care they need. Having both current patient records and previous data on hand will also give doctors greater opportunity to identify and diagnose any potential issues that a client may have, helping the healthcare sector to operate in a very different, proactive and non-intrusive manner.


Today’s carers have more to do than ever before, the increasing understanding of the complexities of providing personalized care means more carer and client contact time is needed, while the increasing number of regulations and tracking processes requires more administration. Technology needs to take away the admin stresses, and free health professionals to reach their potential and provide optimal care for those wishing to remain in the comfort of their home.

In order to improve patient care, it is a matter of arming professionals with the right tools, rather than expecting technology to take the place of carers, nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers. By putting in place remote monitoring technologies and diagnostic resources to facilitate a high level of non-intrusive care, every client and their families will be confident that they can live in their own homes independently, whilst still receiving a high level of care.


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About Helen Dempster

Helen Dempster - Chief Visionary Officer at Karantis360 - has been immersed in customer management and the care sector for over 25 years. With a thorough understanding of the issues surrounding the care industry and first-hand experience of caring for a loved one, Helen has successfully created the foundations of Karantis360, providing a better way to reduce the daily stress placed on carers along with the management of how care is given. Helen Dempster may be contacted via Karantis360.

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