The beauty of technology - whether technology enabled care or in daily life - is that people now have the opportunity to show their abilities and be as independent as possible. The current acceleration in technology development means we can enable people and build a more inclusive society.
As the largest representative body for independent providers of adult social care, Care England is at the forefront of the tech revolution doing what it does best: bringing together the people with the innovative tech ideas with the people who want to support and care for vulnerable people in our community. We want better technology for the sector and access to high quality data and intelligence.
We are seeing the power of everyday tools to make a difference..
Amazon Echo and Google Alexa are setting a whole cadre of people free to express themselves, learn what they want to learn, play the music they want to play and start to live the life they want to lead. Braille watches are being developed, and smart watches with apps designed for people with disabilities to exercise and participate fully in society.
Microsoft is in on the action with its AI for Accessibility programme focusing on accelerating the development of artificial intelligence for help with employment and human connection. There are apps such as Seeing AI, which can narrate what your phone is seeing and Helpicto which interprets and translates spoken language into pictograms. I remember the change in the lives of my deaf colleagues when texting meant they could communicate with friends and colleagues so much more easily. Creating the ability to text is an example of what tech does best i.e. levelling the playing field for people with sensory disabilities. It is also interesting to note that older people, including those living in care homes, are embracing technology. Providers are having to ensure that their buildings and services are digitally up to date which extends beyond just ensuring that broadband is working throughout the home.
AI comes with the need to consider the ethical consequences. For example, the ability to track a person’s movements could increase their autonomy while also impinging on their human rights. These sorts of technologies need to be viewed with a critical eye and through the eye of the person using the new technology because with autonomy comes responsibility … but then shouldn’t we all have the autonomy to take our own risks?
We need to think carefully about who the technology is there to benefit, is it the resident, staff, or Local Authority? All services, albeit care and technology need to hold the service user, in this case care home resident, at the centre. It needs to work for them not vice versa.
TSA’s TEC stories in Care Homes gives examples of how people are expressing their autonomy while they are cared for and supported in residential accommodation. These stories exemplify the spirit of my message: if people have the power to express their independence their quality of life can only be enhanced.
Chief Executive, Care England
Follow Care England and Martin on Twitter @CareEngland @ProfMartinGreen
Click below to download TEC Stories Care Homes: