Lin Rees, telehealthcare development consultant at Tunstall Healthcare, explains how a simple cup of cocoa linked through technology, keeps her mum safe, well and protected.
My role within Tunstall is as a Telehealthcare Development Consultant. Over the past 8 years I have been working with Local Authorities and Health boards in Wales and England to embed telehealthcare into mainstream care provision.
When I speak about the benefits this can have for service users, I speak from personal experience, as I am a remote carer for my Mum, Audrey.
Mum is 84, has COPD along with severe mobility problems following a cerebral aneurysm, leaving her very frail and vulnerable. Given she lives alone in Cheshire, while I live in Birmingham, this presented us with some difficult decisions. Mum wanted to stay in her own home, though given her condition some might say she would be better off in a care home. As a family, my brothers and I discussed the risks she faces on a daily basis and wanted to respect her decision to stay independent.
Mum won’t always let us know she is ill – the cocoa is the key
I recommended that she have a Lifeline service, and to this we have added a bed occupancy sensor. This will let me know if Mum doesn’t get up in the morning by 9.30 as she is normally up between 7 and 8 o’clock most days. Her condition means that she gets pneumonia quite frequently and she won’t always let us know she is ill, so I needed to know if she stayed in bed. I also wanted to monitor that she was ok last thing at night, as the last time she had a stroke no-one found her until the next morning. This can normally be done using the same bed occupancy but given that Mum also suffers from insomnia and her bedtime can vary, we had to think again about how we could manage this risk. I decided to use an electrical usage sensor. Regardless of what time she goes to bed, she always makes a cup of cocoa just before, so this gave me an idea. I plugged her kettle into the EUS and this alerts if the power has not been used between 8 and midnight. If this occurs then the call centre will ring her to see if she is ok and if they get no response they will send the wardens around to check on her (gaining entry via a keysafe).
Mum fell on two occasions and telecare saved her
Her pendant has also saved her on two occasions, when she has had falls in the garden. The first fall was when her mobility scooter had tipped over leaving her pinned to the floor and in a separate incident she tripped while getting the cover off her scooter. She was able to press her pendant and on both occasions the wardens were with her within 20 minutes. Given that one of the incidents happened in winter, I hate to think what might have happened if she had lain there any longer, as she is so frail with her COPD.
My family is able to manage a very difficult situation
So as you can see telehealthcare is not just a job to me, it gives me and my family the opportunity to manage a very difficult situation. It gives us peace of mind and the reassurance of knowing that if something happens, the team down at Halton Borough Council’s telecare service will be there to support her and notify us, so we can get there as soon as possible.
You can live where you want … with a little help from technology
Every older person, social worker and OT needs to be aware of these possibilities, so if people feel they want to stay independent, they can have that choice. We in the consultancy team have a key role to play in taking this message out there and giving all people with similar needs the same opportunities that my Mum has, to live where they want, for as long as they feel safe.