Telecare: New Ideas for Care and Support @ Home

By Puay Tang; Richard Curry et al. | Go to book overview

7
Conclusions

If historical and current information is available,
practitioners can be brought out of the dark
. (Bill
Murphy, Chair of the National Information
Infrastructure Testbed [NIIT], in Tapscott, 1996, p
128)1

People are dying today because we don’t have this
technology today. I could save lives if we had this
infrastructure in place
.” (Unnamed doctor, observer
of the NIIT demonstration on healthcare, in
Tapscott, 1996, p 128)

User, patient and community focused telecare requires team approaches to delivering care, linking specialists, family practitioners and other parties traditionally involved in the provision of separate care and support functions. Technology can help to provide enhanced care delivery and quality by integrating the various streams of care services into a more coherent whole. Electronically integrated delivery systems, which extend across organisations and agencies, national and local, will likely need to have a system which integrates records of health and care recipients into a computer-based care record repository so that both historical and current information on users and care recipients is readily available. This could facilitate a ‘seamless’ provision of information on care recipients as carers move from office visits, to inpatient care, to residential homes or individual homes where telecare can help to provide some parts of the care service.

Faster access to information on care recipients is vital for better treatment, monitoring, and response to recipients’ needs. Against these objectives, the implementation of telecare requires a high degree of coordination between health, housing, social and support services. Such coordination could help with the identification of appropriate funding streams, and with the development of best practice that reliably or sufficiently demonstrates the cost and effectiveness of the application.

Several barriers to the adoption of telecare have been identified. In particular, the overarching requirement for successful deployment of telecare lies in its acceptance and involvement by users. Consultation with potential users and their carers is important for the type of technology and service. Thrusting technology upon people, without their understanding and acceptance of it, often leads to unsatisfactory take-up. To help obtain this acceptance, government initiative and leadership must ensure a consistent approach across departments toward the introduction of telecare. An important preliminary step is to institute a coherent framework. It cannot be over-emphasised that institutional barriers pose a major problem, and the reasons for, and ‘payoff’ to policy makers to adopt telecare must be made clear. Nonetheless, once a framework is in place, means and commitment could be more coherently fostered to tackle the myriad issues involved in the implementation of telecare.

In the light of the conclusions of the Royal Commission on Long Term Care that the majority of care recipients prefer to live in their own homes and lead independent lives, telecare could be an effective way to help deliver this to them. Yet telecare could also instigate a sense of isolation among care users as it implies a decreasing degree of physical contact. Nevertheless, the benefits of telecare merit close consideration, particularly with

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