Kevin Alderson

Kevin Alderson, our UK Sales and Marketing Director, summarises the things you need to know to get better results when implementing technology enabled support services.

It is hard to ignore the challenges we face today. We have an ageing population. Increasing numbers of people are living with long-term and complex conditions. There are financial pressures everywhere. Meeting the challenges of rising demand and constrained resources requires thinking differently. To this end, the Government’s Better Care Fund is designed to join up services, reduce demand and provide better care while making savings. And recently, King’s Fund addressed funding and much more in the Barker Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England.

Supporting people with health and social care needs to live independently at home is what we do at Tunstall. We have been doing this since the 1960’s and have long pioneered care services enabled by technology. Yet some people think we just make buttons and boxes for use by older people, which is definitely not where we are today. Today, our services and solutions criss-cross housing, health and social care – helping adults of all ages to live better, safer, more independent lives. We support self-care, reablement and help keep people out of hospital. We help deliver housing with care. Of course, all of this delivers efficiencies and better outcomes when correctly implemented. So, what does this mean and how can you best implement technology enabled care services, telecare and telehealth?

Recognise technology as an enabler

Having worked at Tunstall since 1997, I have seen the role technology plays in joining up services and improving outcomes. And I have seen it transform lives. Telehealth joins housing with health and telecare connects service users with care providers. However, technology is an enabler, not a one-stop solution. Key is implementing technology properly. This means considering all aspects of service design that surround an individual, as well as the needs and wants of the individual at the centre of the care. It means holistic care.

Connect people, culture and technology

There are many levels at which technology can help. Individuals, professionals and providers can benefit, but all of these must work together to achieve the best outcomes. For example, if an organisation supports the idea of implementing technology to achieve more efficient and effective services but its employees (the professionals) lack knowledge or understanding of its role or resist change then the approach can fail. Indeed, from years of helping organisations to change, we know that culture change is often your first barrier.

Similarly, if an individual (end user) doesn’t understand why technology is helpful or how it works or if technology is introduced during a time of stress or illness then technology enabled approaches can fall short on delivering desired outcomes. Crucially, technology must be built-in not bolted on when services are re-designed. Technology must be understood by people at all levels and integrated into all of the existing support networks and pathways around the end user.

Understand differences and overcome barriers

In my experience, technology itself is rarely a barrier. More often than not, resistance comes from a combination of factors that get lumped into one. And it is this kind of subtlety or a failure to address individual differences that can lead people to doubt the evidence base.

There are no one-size fits all solutions when it comes to technology. Every organisation we work with is different. Every organisation has different existing capacities upon which to build. Every individual is different, with different needs and wants.

As a result, we always work closely with organisations to deliver projects in partnership. We collaborate. We start with the end in mind and focus on outcomes. We help develop business cases for investment, plans to future-proof services and build capacity within communities. Indeed, our experience has taught us that this is the best way to meet the challenge, to deliver on outcomes and to bring care home.

Meeting the dual challenges of rising demand and constrained resources does require thinking differently – and doing different things. Are you ready to make a change?

You can find out more about change and how we have helped a wide range of local authorities, charities and health, housing and social care organisations in our case studieshttp://uk.tunstall.com/solutions/case-studies

I have also written about using telecare and telehealth to bring care home for carers and end users over at myageingparent.com.