Home Opinion Harnessing technology for a fuller, longer lives

Harnessing technology for a fuller, longer lives

by Kirsty Kirsty

Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses the future of retirement care and the role that technology can play for healthcare providers and the public. 

As a nation, we are living for longer which ultimately has huge implications for healthcare providers as we strive to provide quality care at home and support our population in maintaining independence. There are currently over 11 million people over the age of 65 living in the UK1, many of whom are enjoying happy and healthy retirements, but this number will grow as our population ages and the next generation enters retirement age. 

With the right services and technology, we can ensure that the over-65s can continue to live life to the full for longer. 

Considering retirement care

As the baby boomer generation begins to buy into retirement housing, we must look to design and create living spaces that meet the needs of the very first technologically savvy market. 

Older citizens understand the importance of staying healthy, and the role this plays in allowing them to live in the comfort of their own home for a longer period of time 

Technology is advancing exponentially, and therefore to remain competitive and appealing, providers need to develop specific technology strategies, spending as much time considering technology enabled care solutions as they do location, build quality and design features. Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) help deliver preventative care which is personalised to the individual, and provides unobtrusive 24 hour support for those that may need it. 

The role of technology

We must help people who have retired to become aware of technologies that might be right for them now and in the future when they may need more assistance.

Integrating technology into retirement communities from the specification stage offers a significant number of benefits, including greater engagement with health and wellbeing, increased independence, and providing more effective and cost-efficient delivery of health and care.

Using technology such as TECS to support people is relatively low cost, meaning people can remain independent for longer with an increased quality of life. These systems combine a range of unobtrusive alarms and sensors which detect events such as smoke, gas or a person falling, with a response from onsite staff or a 24-hour specialist monitoring centre where the operator will contact family members, response teams or the emergency services to provide help. The huge range of technology available can support more person-centred and proactive care, and ensure any care and support that’s required is tailored to each individual and their lifestyle. 

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), or telehealth, not only empowers people to understand and monitor their own health, but also supports clinicians and community providers in ensuring care is delivered to those who need it most. This keeps individuals active and independent for longer as they receive more intelligent care.

Looking ahead 

The next generation of technological solutions will harness the power of our data-rich world to enable retirement care to become more intelligent, person-centred and, importantly, invisible. Combining data from multiple sources, such as sensors, smartphones and wearables, care models will become increasingly intuitive and highly personalised. 

Insight will be used to highlight changes in behaviour that may indicate a potential deterioration in health or wellbeing which enables early intervention, and shifts the focus from responding to a crisis to staying well and independent. More personalised and person centric care will ultimately support more independent living for those in retirement communities. 

It’s essential that people are invested in their own health and wellbeing, and plan for the future care and technological solutions they may require as they age. The more time that people invest in planning for the future and engaging with service providers and stakeholders, the more of our population will age safely and independently, with the right support at the right time.

Image depicts Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director, Tunstall Healthcare

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