NI homecare patients find improved wellbeing with healthcare tech

  • Home care aided by technology has been found to substantially improve the wellbeing and happiness of older persons in Northern Ireland, according to NI domiciliary care provider, Connected Health.

    A report on the NI initiative has been published after a commission involving the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the TEC Services Association (TSA) found that not enough local authorities or care providers in England are using technology within social care to keep people safe, happy and healthy at home.

    In Northern Ireland, Connected Health’s Care Drop package has been delivered as the ‘New Model of Care & Support at Home’ pilot in rural Lisburn since 2019.

    It involved the delivery of 210 hours of patient-centred care weekly to 16 patients, plus comparative testing with a control group receiving regular home care.

    Under the scheme, patients are given the choice to decide how their care is delivered and technology plays a big part in facilitating that flexibility. 

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    The scheme integrates the use of healthcare tech such as PacSana - a wearable wristband tech that records unexpected or sudden changes in movement patterns - enabling active older people to "extend their independence", says Connected Health. 

    The pilot further included Connected Health’s Get Online Scheme, which provides ‘offline’ older people with internet access - which saw 77% engagement among service users during the Covid pandemic.

    Under the pilot, care packages are tailored to the service users’ specific requirements. Self-organising care teams offer companionship, health monitoring, social support, make-up application, massage, remote exercise classes, training in the use of new technology, social prescribing and more.

    The overall outcomes of the pilot have been described by Connected Health Project Manager, Rebecca Vogel as “hugely significant for the future of best practice in home care”.

    “During Covid-19, the Get Online Scheme was particularly successful in helping clients tackle loneliness and feelings of isolation," she added. 

    "Pilot clients who were supplied with tablets and internet access by Connected Health have thoroughly enjoyed virtual catch-ups, check-ins and even online exercise classes with our Wellbeing Facilitators.”

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    Connected Health Director, Ryan Williams commented: “Some of the outcomes are very impressive. We can look at the health and social care outcomes which have been significantly better than in the control group who are in receipt of regular home care.

    "But if we look at the patient improvement scores across activity, mental health and wellbeing, they are really seismic.

    “Homecare workers will see clients 30-40 times more often than in any other part of the health and social care system," he continued. 

    "For us, that represents a real opportunity to improve the health outcomes of our particular demographic and inform the future of home care generally with the integration of technology.”

    The pilot project was originally scheduled to run for six months but has been extended – and is currently ongoing - due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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