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Support for those who care

(March 2009) Technology can not only help older people to live longer at home – it helps to enable more efficient carers and services. Netcarity News spoke to an occupational therapist, a nurse and a care home administrator from Netcarity partner SVVE.

How do you see the role of technology in supporting older people?

Femke – older people want to stay at home as long as possible. Technology can help to provide services that maintain their safety, daily wellbeing and continued inclusion in society. SVVE has identified a growing need for technology in the homes of older people living independently.

We would like to install technologies which make us more effective as carers without jeopardising people’s independence or privacy.

Petra – my personal vision of technology has changed. SVVE has a policy to use technology where it can help us to provide better care services. Our design of new complexes for independent living now anticipates what technologies may be installed in the future.

It is important to note that technology can help us to support people and provide services, but it will never replace personal care.

How have older people responded to the introduction of technology in care services?

Isabella – I’ve enjoyed seeing how curious older people are about the potential of technology, particularly when we involve them in the design of new systems to suit their particular needs.

Petra – When we first involved older people in Netcarity, they often said they were too old to learn about technology. But if we approach it sensitively, and give them confidence by involving them in the design of systems, they become willing to learn.

It’s been very rewarding to see people change their approach once they see how technology can enable their wellbeing, health and independence.

How has Netcarity changed its approach to technology for older people?

Petra – at the beginning of the project, our technical partners were not particularly aware of the needs of end users. Then we had a week-long workshop where scientists and technologists experienced life as an older person. Now they ask a lot more questions about what services the technology will enable and how it can be adjusted to suit user requirements.

What is your vision for the integration of technology with care services?

Isabella – technology is giving people the opportunity to live comfortably at home for as long as possible. That is a big change.

Petra – I think the integration of different technologies is going to become more and more important to the provision of services and support for older people living independently at home.

What impact has technology had on the care professions?

Isabella – With demographic trends meaning we will soon have a lot more older people, technology is becoming really essential to deliver a good quality of care.

I also believe that the sophisticated and sensitive integration of technology with caring will attract more people into care professions. This is because technology makes care work more interesting and exciting, especially for younger people.

There has traditionally not been enough emphasis on technology in nursing qualifications. We are working with education authorities to add technology to the nursing curriculum.

 

Administrator Isabella van den Bos-Buzwilili believes that technology is giving people the opportunity to live comfortably at home

Isabella is a service point administrator who handles daily enquiries and requests for personal care, housekeeping and domestic care. She also responds to emergency alarm calls and handyman service requests in care homes run by SVVE. She also offers care support to older people living independently in their own homes.

Occupational therapist Petra Panis is a firm believer in better services for older people from advances in technology

Petra has worked for nine years at SVVE in Eindhoven. She has experience with old and young people as well as those with behavioural issues. Petra has been a full-time contributor to Netcarity for two years. She helped to run a series of focus groups and interviews to evaluate the needs of older people as users of technology.

Nurse Femke de Jong wants technology and human interaction to enable better care for older users

Femke has been working for SVVE for eight years as a nurse and coordinator. She is currently a care consultant. She has assessed older people and their homes to identify issues that can be resolved through technology and other care interventions. Femke is the first point of contact for care and service questions from people living independently. She offers guidance on long-term complex care issues.