Ambitious plans to put technology to work in care and healthcare were launched today by Dundee Health & Social Care Partnership (DHSCP). The launch comes during Digital Health & Care Week and is one of a series of events around Scotland.
Speaking beforehand, Cllr Ken Lynn, chair of the DHSCP, said, “This strategy is about using the internet to help people live independently and manage their own care. It’s about some fairly basic equipment which can be used at home and in the community. And it’s about ensuring our workforce know about the new ways of working which can save so much time and enhance care.
“Technology can never replace human contact. But it can put some people with disabilities back in control of their own lives. There is huge potential for beneficial change in the years to come.”
The report sets out three principles. The first is that Dundee’s citizens should be able to get reliable information about health and wellbeing through the internet.
Cllr Lynn said, “We should never forget that many people in the city are still unable to use the internet. However, all the agencies in the city are online, and can use some of our excellent resources such as Dundee MyLife and NHS Inform to find the information that their clients need.”
Access to necessary equipment is the second principle. Partnership Chief Officer David Lynch said, “Equipment can mean walking frames, stairlifts or even something as simple as a kitchen knife with an easy grip handle. But over the next few years the internet will become more and more important. A range of sensors linked to the internet will help people stay safe in their homes. They can send an instant alert if, for example, someone falls and needs help. We want to ensure that everyone has access to equipment which can help them keep their independence.”
The third part of the Strategy involves training for the city’s health and social care workforce to ensure they are familiar with new ways of working. Cllr Lynn said, “Technology is changing so fast that it’s hard for everyone to keep up. We intend to use e-learning and regular communication so that our staff are aware of new developments which can help them deliver the very best care in the most efficient way.”
David Lynch added, “In Dundee we have a particularly well developed community alarm service, delivered by the Social Response 24 team. Nearly 6,000 people are using the community alarm to alert carers to emergencies, but the system does much more than that. We have sensors that raise the alarm if someone is having an epileptic fit in bed, and we have other kit which protects people with dementia from becoming confused and going out in the middle of the night.
“This in turn provides reassurance for families, and takes the pressure off other emergency services such as ambulance and police. Using technology this way is very cost effective, and everyone benefits.”