Telecare, problem or solution?

this image shows a control room full of monitors

This is what I never want to see – care home residents – monitored on screens from behind a desk

“Is remote health monitoring technology the future for health care?”

This is what I never want to see – care home residents – monitored on screens from behind a desk.

I am known for my strong opposition to most, but not all, uses of technology when it comes to caring for the specific and complex needs of elderly people and people with dementia. I was approached by Dale Rodriguz of Sentab TV and asked these questions as part of an article he is writing on the topic of Telecare.

1: Do you think the care sector uses current technology to its fullest potential, if not how do you think it could be improved?

I think there are many companies developing many similar technologies. I would love to see something that is REALLY going to make a difference to the lives of elderly people and not merely save time and streamline the lives of carers. Not that there is anything wrong with making the lives of care workers easier and allow them more time to spend with people.

I have strong opinions regarding robotic care, which are shared by the majority but not everyone. I firmly believe in human touch and voice being both supportive and reassuring yet sadly also in decline when it comes to supply of carers.

As we move to the future and require one million more carers than we currently have how will we cope? When we leave the EU – can our overseas carers stay? There will not be enough people to provide the care that is needed, so what do we do – substitute care for monitoring? I have a fear that we will be warehoused in huge purpose built “factories” – monitored electronically and only the very essential needs met by humans, toileting and dressing.

Who wants to end their days being “monitored” rather than cared for? I for one never thought this would happen. Neither did any of the post war Governments, who knew that one-day the babies would boom and then ultimately age. Well the music has stopped and the parcel (buck) has stopped and there is no present inside the layers – only a past, the missed opportunity to do the right thing by the elderly of any decade.

2: Do you think there is a reason why older adults may have an apprehension to tech interventions e.g. complexity/ease of use, familiarity etc.? Or is this stigma untrue?

This is not a stigma and neither is it a rule of thumb. There are many 90 year olds using the Internet for email, shopping and Skyping the great grandchildren. With the introductions of very easy to use devices this is opening up the accessibility. From experience, I would say many elderly people loose interest when an update disables their device and they need to reboot or log back in with 20 minute letters and numbers!

3: Do you have any advice for tech companies on how to approach the care sector, specifically older adult care/support?

Tricky question to ask a former technophobe who until 5 years ago didn’t know what a blog was, and could hardly copy and paste! Do you know what I would like to see is “sensitive tech” that can detect emotion not just vital statistics. People are … people, we thrive on interaction – how does tech solves this – I have no idea! Get the devices to have a conversations and the “customer/service users can join in! Have a “Gabble with Google”. All I would say is that our 60 plus generation are pretty tech savvy now; try taking away their iPhones and Macs. There will be more than one type of pad in care homes as standard as we techies age!

4: Do you think the adoption of technology within health and social care will increase within the next 5 years, and if so, how?

It will, and I for one dread to see how. Show me something that makes me feel happy and excited about person centred care that is more inventive than a memory depository, communication device, log in and monitor stats system. Some of the colouring apps give more pleasure. Call me a cynic, I am! Wow me, and prove me wrong…..please.

5: £ 2Billion over 3 years; do you think this will help with the “Social Care Crisis”?

Sadly I think it is a drop in the ocean, soon to become a care tsunami. A life jacket each may be more appropriate! Available online and with free delivery!


Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

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