The latest technology is not exactly synonymous with the thought of aged care – but it’s in the sphere of aged care that technology can make a significant difference. The adoption of recent technological innovations into aged care has improved the safety, comfort and wellbeing of many aged care residents in recent times. It’s also had the effect of making the working life of aged care workers easier and more streamlined. Here’s how the aged care industry has begun to embrace the technological age.
It’s beneficial for aged care residents
While technology won’t ever be a suitable replacement for human care, there are plenty of ways it can improve the lives of residents. Here are just some of them:
- Older people can “virtually” visit places of interest by going on virtual tours from the comfort of their own armchair.
- Technological assistance can help people with dementia to better manage their emotions, their condition and their care.
- Advancements in call bell systems allow staff to prioritise calls and attend to more urgent matters first, thus improving the safety of residents.
- Technology can allow residents to feel more connected, both with family and friends and with the outside world, thus alleviating feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
- Allows aged care residents to have more independence, choice and autonomy, and to feel more empowered about their lifestyle and care.
- Allows for quicker administration tasks, which frees staff to spend more time with residents.
- The introduction of AI (artificial intelligence) can benefit seniors in many ways, from providing a robotic pet for companionship to chatbots that respond to emotion during a conversation.
- Wearables (such as smart watches, GPS trackers and alarms) allow freedom for the older person while also keeping them safe and protected.
- Smart pill bottles and sensors will allow older people to better manage their medication.
- AI systems and data analytics can identify when a senior is likely to experience a health incident in the future, such as a heart problem, fall or mental illness.
- Technology literally saves lives, by allowing a faster response to an emergency.
- 3D printed food (yes, that’s a thing!) is allowing older people to chew and digest their food more easily, thus getting the required nutrients.
Helps the carers and the facility
Technology is also extremely effective in aiding the work of aged care staff and improving efficiency. The adoption of technology:
- Improves the effectiveness of administration and paperwork by providing smoother and more efficient automated processes.
- Provides more connected and personalised patient care and deeper patient insights.
- Provides quicker access to data and allows providers to manage data on the go.
- Allows staff to provide more convenient and regular interactions with residents.
- Improves the precision of records.
- Provides opportunities to further enhance resident wellbeing.
Helps the families of residents
The families of aged care residents also benefit immensely from the adoption of technology:
- Allows families of residents who live too far away to visit to regularly engage with their aged family member.
- Family members are more readily able to check on the health and wellbeing of their older relative, allowing for greater peace of mind.
Allows older people to age in place
While not specifically in the aged care sector, ageing in place is the preference for many older people where possible. And these days, embracing technology is central to enabling people to age in place. Here’s how:
- Wearable devices allow for remote monitoring and provide the ability to call for help from anywhere when needed.
- Smart home networks make life easier and tasks more achievable for older people.
- Biosensors can track people’s vital signs, automatically update e-health records and notify someone in the event of an emergency.
- Technology provides both freedom and security for older people.
Technology will empower an ageing population to remain in their homes longer – and to feel safer, more secure and confident while doing so.
The future looks bright
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – future technology (which is already in the development stages now) will provide even more ways to benefit older people living in aged care. Technology looks set to revolutionise the way aged care is delivered, and will improve resident care, resident experience, and wellbeing.
How to overcome roadblocks to technology adoption
Older people can sometime be a little reluctant to adopt new technology, often fearing that they won’t be able to use it properly or that they’ll make a mistake. Aged care facilities can have a big role to play in helping seniors overcome technology resistance, by providing training to residents and assistance in using the technology.
As well, the residents themselves are more likely to overcome their own resistance once they can see clear benefits to the technology – such as being able to be more independent once wearing a digital monitor that can call for help if something goes wrong. Seniors are more and more open nowadays to the idea of using technology in their day-to-day routine for a whole range of reasons.
How Finley Regional Care is embracing technological advancements
One example of how we’re using technology to support quality aged care in practice here at Finley Regional Care is our recent acquisition of a Tovertafel.
Created by Active Cues in the Netherlands, Tovertafel (which in English translates to Magic Table) brings a sense of wonder to residents living with dementia. You may not have heard of it, but Tovertafel is a new light projector-based, game-changing innovation that projects playful, interactive games onto a tabletop, enabling people to move the images with their hands in an intuitive way. This amazing technology gives residents living with dementia the opportunity for moments of happiness and happier daily experiences. These games have been developed to need only those cognitive processes and “perceptions” that remain even in the late stages of dementia, to stimulate people to move more and interact socially.
Our residents have been captivated by the Tovertafel, and have immensely enjoyed using it. It’s brought smiles, laughter and fun, as well as purposeful engagement and a sense of achievement.
Adoption of technology generally equates to happier, safer and more active aged care residents – something that we can all agree is what we want to see.