Telecare: New Ideas for Care and Support @ Home

Telecare: New Ideas for Care and Support @ Home

Telecare: New Ideas for Care and Support @ Home

Telecare: New Ideas for Care and Support @ Home


This study explores the social, economic and technical opportunities and constraints to delivering new health and care services to residents in their own homes through the use of Information and Communication Technology (referred to here as 'telecare'). Trials in the UK, USA, Japan and mainland Europe are demonstrating the possibilities of delivering new services via video telephones and digital television sets directly to users in their homes.Telecare is an innovative system for the delivery of health and care services. Its implementation is resulting in major policy issues cutting across traditional domains of housing, health and social services. It also raises wide-ranging social concerns over privacy, the possibility of isolation and the ethical use of new technologies. This new report provides an up-to-date analysis of the multiple and complex issues surrounding the implementation of telecare systems. The key goal of telecare is to facilitate greater independence for users and improve the ability for carers to deliver a wider range of new and existing services. Based on the analysis of the barriers, risks, challenges and opportunities that telecare presents to care providers, the report is able to present recommendations for policy makers, and professionals, who have an ever increasing interest in using technology as a cost-effective way of improving the quality of life for people wishing to remain living independently in their own homes.Under-researched issues that the authors identify and address include:social: with respect to user needs of telecare services;economic: the likely cost of care provision and savings for the implementation of telecare;technical: the different types of telecare and inhibitors to its future development;policy: actions for policy makers involved in the provision of care services.
This valuable review of the current literature will be essential reading for care providers and health professionals in the private and voluntary sector as well as housing providers and the academic community. It is also important reading for policy makers in government, equipment suppliers and manufacturers in industry, housing providers and charities concerned with older people.


If you have got an older person who is taken into care,
sometimes the only hope that they have to live for is that
someday they’ll go back to their house. You take that
away and their life ends
. (Royal Commission on Long
Term Care, 1999, ch 8, p 11)

The oecd has advised its member countries to introduce strategic frameworks to harmonise reforms to support the growing proportion of elderly people in our society and to ensure adequate attention is paid to implementation and improved public understanding and support for changes in housing and care provision (OECD, 1997).

The advent of the information society has brought with it major changes in the ways in which we live, such that a much wider variety of activities can be carried out in our homes than in the past. This report explores the implications of developing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for the provision of health and care services to people in their own homes. It also assesses whether new information technologies can be introduced within housing schemes to facilitate access to new forms of interactive services, which may have a wide investment impact and bring new benefits to users (Gann et al, 1999).

What is telecare?

Telecare is the term given to the provision of health, care and support services to people in their own homes, over the new high-speed digital telecommunications infrastructure. This infrastructure offers the potential to support a wide range of care services in locations remote from traditional medical centres (hospitals and doctors’ surgeries), including in people’s homes and in resource centres in mixed and sheltered housing schemes. This study differentiates between telecare and telemedicine, although these two are frequently treated synonymously by those involved in the field of electronically delivered health, medical and care services. We define telemedicine as the provision of long distance treatment, diagnosis, consultation and monitoring between medical facilities.

The type of activities that telecare could support include routine diagnostics, monitoring, screening, basic counselling and advice. For example, single electronic records could be held on smart cards, which can be used on new equipment in the home. These could be used as a means of transferring and updating medical records cheaply and at the same time provide the possibility of giving users control over sensitive information. Telecare could also support housing functions, such as warden services currently provided by housing providers.

Why is technology important?

National expenditure on health, social care and housing is rising. the increasing demands of care recipients, coupled with a rapidly ageing population, are challenging governments as to how they will continue to provide consistent community care. This has prompted governments to re-examine their policies for care. in the uk, the Royal Commission on Long Term Care reviewed ways to improve care provision so that, among other objectives, users could benefit from a better choice of care services and thereby enjoy a better quality of . . .

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