Improving elderly health?

The Island’s elderly population continues to grow and consequently their demand for services will grow accordingly with more presentations of chronic long term conditions that will require multi-agency input from Primary and Social Care. Using video conferencing attached to the television in the homes of elderly people with chronic conditions would enable care staff to dial in to check-up on an elderly person before deciding where there was a need to visit them. It would reduce travel times of peripatetic staff, help prioritise workloads and thus target the expertise and give the elderly the reassurance that there is ‘someone watching over them’.

It could also be used by the elderly person to summon assistance in health scare situations that do not need emergency staff to attend. By having such a service run by a private sector call centre (similar to the 'red button' fall detector systems) with calls prioritised by the health Island’s service, scarce community health service staff could be better utilised and the health of the elderly delivered more effectively.

Why the contribution is important

Access to primary care services is becoming more difficult with appointments to see a GP often taking more than a week. Arguably this is in part due to GPs appointments being available online reducing the prioritising of appointments by GP receptionists. Elderly people often do not have access to the Internet or are confident in using it and thus their health conditions get worse while they wait to get a conventional GP appointment made over the phone. As many of the elderly are frequent visitors to GPs, video conferencing would enable a regular check to be undertaken by community staff and perhaps prevent the need to see a GP. As well as the health benefit, in the US this has also been used to enable conferencing between elderly people thus giving them a social contact with others and reduce loneliness. 

Small video conferencing sets remove the need for funds for providing tablet devices which use services such as Skype, and are more secure in terms of the health information that would be shared. Also tablet devices become an attraction to grandchildren and can end up being lost down the back of the sofa or broken!

by Galen on April 05, 2017 at 10:11AM

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