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The home care service industry needs a technology revolution

 

It’s no secret that technology has improved the way we shop, bank, drive and communicate. Even in the medical field, technology has improved the way we are diagnosed, treated and receive updates from our doctors. 

 

But modernization doesn’t seem to be as prevalent in the non-medical home care services industry. In fact, the daily practice of taking care of older or disabled Americans in their homes seems to have changed very little while the rest of the world is speeding across the internet or interacting at breakneck speed.

But innovation in this industry is coming and should be welcomed with open arms by home care businesses, caregivers and clients alike. We’ve all heard that seniors are sometimes more reluctant to accept change and embrace technology, but most older Americans today have already had experience with computers, smartphones and smart TVs, so they are no longer newcomers to technology.

Embracing the future

As technology advances, it also becomes more user-friendly, intuitive and accessible, which makes it easier for everyone from the most online teenagers to older parents striving to age in place at home. 

Understandably, seniors who have rarely “plugged in” might feel intimidated by any new technology. According to the Pew Research Center, about one in four seniors don’t the internet, and some in more rural areas face connectivity issues. But, if the internet is available in a senior’s area, family members should encourage them to begin using it. Try showing your loved one how easy it is to watch videos on demand or talk to family members in real time to start.

And, if your older family member is already familiar with the internet or smartphones, then getting them to see the value in using technology to schedule doctor’s appointments or find online exercise classes or brain teasers to help them stay physically and mentally fit without leaving the house is a plus. As a bonus, technology can also be used when it’s time to wind down. Seniors who are active online can download everything from movies to music to online books without the burden of traveling to a movie theater, library or bookstore to get their entertainment.

As seniors realize how technology can empower them as they age, most will begin to embrace the change and accept the reality that technology is here to stay.

Easing the burden of the home care worker

In addition to empowering seniors to maintain some control over their lives, technology can also ease the burden of home care workers, who do far more than just help seniors and the disabled with chores. 

Home care workers also maintain medical schedules, communicate with family members and provide visit information that informs a client’s family or is required by their employer. Technology can help these caregivers:

  • Create service plans
  • Make medication lists
  • Schedule activities for their clients
  • Maintain their own schedules
  • Keep up with doctors’ appointments
  • Update paperwork

In addition to being able to let a client’s family know in an instant how their loved one is feeling from day to day, the home care community can benefit from devices that allow them or the senior’s family to remotely monitor their loved ones for accidents or keep an eye on their vital signs. 

Today, caregivers can already be notified when their client needs to take their medication but it’s not unrealistic to consider that future innovation may help seniors complete hospital recovery stays from a “homespital” or gather biomarkers to assist home care workers with meal planning and customized exercises that best benefit the client.

A 2019 study in the American Journal of Accountable Care found that home healthcare often results in lower costs, lower hospital readmission rates and faster recovery times.

Boosting tech to give home care workers the right tools

In addition to helping caregivers provide better service to their clients, innovation also helps them increase their access to continuing education and can be used to recruit a new generation of younger workers into the home care field.

Younger workers have been exposed to technology their entire lives, so providing them a workplace with antiquated communications and workflow systems is not very inviting when recruiting future caregivers. Plus, providing them with easy, accessible ways to further their education or maintain certifications online also helps with retention.

Finally, technology can assist home care workers with the tools they need to stave off burnout. While our aging population is increasing, home care businesses are seeing a shortage of workers, which is placing more burdens on their current staff. Innovative solutions are necessary to help workers offload some of the physical duties while offering them methods to contact support and assistance in real time.

The future is here

At Caring Senior Service, for example, we are already putting a tablet in every home to help our clients, our team members and their families stay in contact. These tablets come preprogrammed with the Tendio® Family Portal, which is Caring Senior Service’s proprietary software designed to help seniors remain engaged as they age at home.

The portal provides a secure, cloud-based platform that is accessible by the senior, their caregiver and their family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The software offers real-time video conferencing, caregiver tracking, electronic timesheets and a messaging center.

This technology provides support for seniors living at home while also monitoring trends so that our caregivers can make active adjustments to the services they provide. Caring Senior Service has already improved our workflows and enhanced our service deliveries with the use of this platform.

By offering new technologies, providing training to both caregivers and the seniors they serve, and accepting that change will happen, we improve the outlook for both seniors and the industry as a whole.

Technology has to be seen as a beneficial alternative to the antiquated systems many home care services currently use in order to become more widespread. And, the only way to achieve that is to invest in innovation and use it in ways that benefit the workers, the clients and the client’s families. 

Caring Senior Service founder & CEO Jeff Salter will be discussing innovation in home care at 11 a.m. on Oct. 25 at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice’s (NAHC) Annual Conference and Expo.

 

Salter began his career in senior care in 1991 working for a home health care agency in Odessa, Texas. Four months later, he started his own senior care service to provide seniors with the non-medical care they need to stay at home. In 2003, Caring Senior Service began offering franchises and today has locations in over 50 markets nationwide. For more information on Caring Senior Service, please visit https://www.caringseniorservice.com/.