Tunstall’s UK Housing Marketing Manager, Fay Lambert, writes about our European Symposium – an event that connected leaders working across health, housing, social care and technology.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to fly out to Barcelona to take part in a four day event designed to bring together visionaries and influencers from across Europe to discuss the role of telehealthcare in improving the quality and sustainability of health and social care provision.

With representatives from across the UK, Nordics, Benelux, Germany, France and Spain, the Symposium debated the pressures to reduce demand on health and care services, improve outcomes for citizens and generate cost efficiencies, in addition to showcasing the most innovative models and ways of working from each region.

A number of key conclusions were drawn from our discussions, and top of the bill was the need to integrate services. It’s not a new story, but it’s a challenge we’ve yet to solve. The difference in Barcelona was that we had the opportunity to explore real life examples of how including telehealthcare in delivery models can help to move us further towards our goal of holistic, person-centred care. We also heard about the value of engaging wider stakeholder groups including public-private partnerships and third sector organisations in this process.

Another major theme throughout the Symposium was the importance of enabling self-care and self-management for people with long-term health and care needs. The more we can empower people to take control of their wellbeing, the more we can retain their independence and connections to their communities, delivering care closer to home and focusing service delivery on the person and their individual needs. And of course, this is a more economically sustainable model.

We also heard many examples of how telehealthcare can support carers, reducing their anxiety, enabling them to have some free time and in some cases allowing them to continue or return to work. Sadly we also learned how few carers were aware of the technology, how it could help them or where they could access it. When you work in the industry it is sometimes easy to forget that there are people out there who’ve never heard of telecare, and unfortunately it is often these people who could benefit from it the most.

There were many more insightful discussions, and I think everyone who attended this unique learning experience took back knowledge which will prove invaluable to them and to their organisations. And of course in our free time we also managed to see a little of Barcelona and enjoy the beauty, architecture, history and cuisine this amazingly vibrant city has to offer.

The main thing I took home from the Symposium, as well as having forged closer relationships with colleagues and customers, is that despite cultural differences that may exist, we are all facing the same challenge. How can we afford to provide better care for those who need it most in the future? We all have grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers who may at some point need the help of health and social care. Attending the Symposium has made me more passionate than ever about playing my small part in working towards making sure the system works if they, or I, should ever need to use it. And it has made me proud to work for a company that has made a positive difference to millions of people. We’ll keep up the good work!