Technology for carers – toolkit for professionals:

supported by the Department of Health in partnership with Carers UK

There is a major opportunity for health and care professionals to make a difference

A poll commissioned by Carers UK as part of this work shows consumers are missing out on the benefits of technology when it comes to supporting health and care needs. Though 7 in 10 of adults online across the UK use technology to help them manage their money (72%), shop (71%), for social networking (67%) and for communicating (66%), less than 3 in 10 (29%) turn to technology when it comes to helping with health and care. 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. Men were significantly less likely (25%) than women (33%) to use health and care technology.

The findings were consistent across generations with young and old, social media users and middle and working class respondents all reporting very low use of health and care technology. Although, regular use of the internet continues to rise steadily with more than 8 in 10 of people going online daily, the numbers using technology to support with health and care remains stubbornly low: research carried out in 2013 by the Carers UK found the same proportion of people (30%) then were embracing health and care technology. Other research by Carers UK shows that caring can have a significant impact on people’s lives, increasing worry and stress, increasing the likelihood of ill-health, reducing time with other family and friends and often placing a strain on people’s ability to juggle work and care.

Evidence from carers who use technology shows that the right support can impact positively on carers’ lives and help to counteract some of the more challenging aspects of caring. When the kinds of technology available were described to respondents, the proportion saying they would use it to help them if they were caring, as long as it was affordable, rose from 1 in 20 (5%) to 7 in 10 (69%). What this means is that the major barrier to using care technology is a lack of knowledge, advice and information: this website aims to help health and care professionals to disseminate that knowledge.

The toolkit

DHACA has put together a ‘toolkit’ for all commissioners and professionals from both health & social care to help them to advise carers how to care more effectively through the beneficial use of technology. Technology in this area has advanced very quickly so everyone can be forgiven for being a little out of touch: this website aims to bring users up to speed, quickly.

To help promote technology for carers, there is a specially commissioned video and promotional material aimed at carers that anyone can distribute online or via print. You may also want to look at the companion, carers-focused, Carers UK site. Underpinning the work both by DHACA and Carers UK is DHACA’s original detailed desk research.

As one of the key issues is persuading people being cared for to adopt technology – any technology sometimes – here is a case study on one success, plus a few other tips & tricks. Of interest too is a presentation given by Linda Saunders, ADASS lead on assistive technology explaining how technology can move users from the “deficit approach” to one of enabling people to live longer and better lives.

There is also a listing of websites understood to offer non-commercial advice on appropriate technologies, and a listing of specific suppliers.

Finally, there is advice for carers on technology purchase here.

Note this is a work in progress so readers are encouraged to comment on additions and changes for inclusion.

In more detail
The different technologies available to help carers are categorised as:
Health monitoring (sometimes called ‘telehealth’)
Remote consultation with a clinician (‘telemedicine’)
Remote treatment and advice
Environmental monitoring (‘telecare’)
Socialising technologies
Home-based care technologies
Enhancement technologies

For each, there is a brief description of the technologies described, followed by at least one case study of beneficial use by a carer. There is also a list of suppliers understood to be offering goods or services for this technology.

Other resources
There is also a range of more specialist resources including:

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