This conference was presented by TSA (Technology Enabled Care Services Organisation) whose vision is: People choosing technology-enabled care to enrich everyday life.
More about that at https://www.tsa-voice.org.uk/about-tsa/mission-and-vision/
This conference was created to bring together organisations of many types to talk about how technology perhaps does now, and surely can in the future, help people in later life.
Because of covid-19, the whole conference was on-line, so up to 4 days – 32 hours – watching a computer screen!
There were many presentations with topics covering all areas of care provision. Speakers were from government, local government, NHS and many private companies.
Some thirty companies were able to present their wares in the on-line exhibition area, and any members of the audience could type in questions at any time. Also was a facility for people to meet up – online – to have active discussions.
There were discussion panels where the audience could ask questions to get answers from industry leading figures.
I hasten to say that I did not spend the full 4 days taking part! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. But I did watch a significant range of presentations including one by our own u3a chief executive Sam Mauger (see below).
How to summarise a big, 4 day conference conference in a few words?
I think the conference was really about enabling people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. This has been particularly relevant over the past year because of covid-19. Many of us older people have not wanted to go to doctor’s surgeries or, especially, hospitals for any reason, and NHS Scotland reported something like 650,000 health service attendances were missed, last year, by Scottish people who felt the same.
Last year, in Wales, a system was rolled out where each person receiving home care was issued with a computer tablet and was able to visually contact a central call centre, at any time of the day or night, for any reason. The call centre staff are trained to provide real support where possible, or to put the person in touch with the appropriate support organisation.
So it may be that you have unexpectedly run out of a particular medication, or you have had a fall, or you need to discuss some new symptom or whatever. If it is health related, they are there for you. And if necessary they will call in paramedics or ambulance, of course. So, if you are living on your own and have an incident at 3 o’clock in the morning and want somebody to speak to – you can.
The benefit to Wales is that the service can manage a great many people with relative few staff, while at the same time providing a much increased level of service. Let’s hope Cornwall and Devon roll out something similar before too long.
Our u3a CEO, Sam Mauger, was at pains to let the conference know that so many older people are very active and are often big contributors to their local communities; and they do not want to be offered old-fashioned or poorly designed products just because the are old. She reminded attendees to treat older people with respect and to choose their words carefully!
We all know about our wonderful NHS. But maybe you do not know about NHSX! I certainly didn’t. NHSX is all about enabling the exchange of information, digitally, within the NHS. Getting more and more health records digitised and stored on computers where it can actually be useful. I’d like to think that as we move around different hospitals in our region, our health data would travel with us, so we don’t have to answer the same questions at different place. And should we ever have an emergency, wouldn’t it be good to know that the hospital is aware that we are allergic to some antibiotics, or have low blood pressure, or on blood thinners, etc.? I don’t know if this is their aim – but surely it should be.
I know that many people will be nervous about the authorities having very personal information stored in centralised database that can, potentially be hacked. So, NHSX has a prime responsibility to protect our data and to make it available only to those who really need it.
As well as providing better healthcare by being better informed about its patients, it will also provide the NHS with a very much better understanding of the health of the nation, and where best to spend our money. As an example, by analysing hospital appointments, it became obvious that outpatient procedures have been much more efficient in some NHS Trusts than in others, and so led to new procedures to help improve them everywhere. They are doing so much more than this:- if you are interested, you can see more at https://www.nhsx.nhs.uk/
NHSX has setup up a Digital Aspirants Programme to provide funding to some NHS trusts to advance their digitisation programs. Nearly 60 trusts are receiving support. The main set of trusts are receiving £6 million each. Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust is just starting and is receiving just £250,000 to develop their digital strategy and business case. Devon NHS Trust is not on the list at all! Why? You can get more information at https://www.nhsx.nhs.uk/key-tools-and-info/digital-aspirants/.
So, whether is is designing houses that support us as we age, or providing technologies that keep us in our own home, I have to say I was truly amazed by the amount of effort that is going on across the country – and indeed, across the world, to help the ageing population, of which we are a part.
Have any of you had a doctor’s eConsultation or used LIVI for an on-line consultation? How did you find it? Was it better or worse than a face to face doctor’s appointment?
It is recognised by the conference that it is all about the person, not the tech.
Enabling people to live longer, healthier and happier lives.
Digitisation of social care to improve care outcomes.
Providing iPads to care homes.
Secure mail systems for exchanging care information.
If you want to feed back any thoughts, please send them to me email@example.com. Let me know if don’t want your comments shared as I may do another article to include any comments I receive!
David Hyndman – your u3a Bude web man.
25 March 2021