Building a Stronger Community Through Technology

by Steve Sawyer, Managing Director of Access Health and Social Care (www.theaccessgroup.com)

It’s an understatement to say COVID-19 has had an overwhelming impact on the way we operate our daily lives, in particular within the care sector.

We’ve read stories about staff working flat-out to deliver high standards of care and vulnerable people being isolated from their families.

A year later, with restrictions easing the impacts are still very much there. Despite the challenges faced, there were still moments to remember that built resilience and a tighter knit community for residents and carers.

Technology is providing new ways of staying in touch throughout the pandemic. We have seen it go from something we used when needed, to depending on it. In fact, a recent report by OFCOM recorded that from September 2019 to April 2020, Zoom experienced huge growth, from 659,000 to 13 million adults connecting virtually.

For carers and residents, the use of technology became a saving grace. At a time when visits from family and friends were not permitted, effective communications have never been more important.

Having to shield, we have seen residents face a tough time with their mental health but also their physical health. Worryingly, Age UK found that one in three older people agree that their anxiety is now worse than before the start of the pandemic and a large proportion of over 70s have experienced depression.

The use of technology may have relieved some of these factors. In many cases for the first time, we have seen members of the older generation embracing video calls, using online entertainment to keep their mind stimulated and getting their daily exercise from virtual classes.

Bruce Daisley, best-selling author and a technology leader recently spoke at the Access All Areas Spring 21 virtual conference detailing the opportunities this new digital age can bring. “Technology is a really important part of our world right now and brings a sense of being connected with each other.

“COVID-19 challenged our identity, but technology brings empathy and allows us to feel as if others are on our side.”

Overwhelmingly, the benefits of introducing technology into the care sector have been big. The NHS sent out up to 11,000 iPad tablets to care homes across the UK, realising the importance of supporting resi- dents and staff. Not only did this allow them to connect with loved ones and keep on top of their doctor appointments but it also gave them time to reminisce and create opportunities for conversation. Whether that would be re-connecting with their hobbies, passions or going down memory lane with classic movies.

Care providers are going one step further and using digital technology to improve the lives of millions of residents. For example, a next-of- kin app, supported by a care management system, enables carers to manage their booking times as well as giving access to family members allowing them to view key information about their loved one’s health and wellbeing. Throughout lockdown this has helped to keep families connected and now that restrictions are easing it is alleviating bottlenecks and the influx of calls from family members by keeping them in the loop.

Overall, combining technology with the care sector has been a tremendous and promising step in the right direction. Online tools can ensure we are prepared for whatever is around the corner, guarantee- ing we can continue connecting with the outside world and making sure our identity isn’t lost along the way.

To listen to Bruce Daisley on demand session, go to:

https://accessallareas.theaccessgroup.com/talks/the-future-work-opportunity-for-the-rest-of-us/

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