Maintaining Independence in Aging: The Use of Telecare

Thursday, 10 July 2008: 8:50 AM
Khim Horton, PhD, BSc(Hons), RN, RCNT, RNT, PGCEA , Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7TE, United Kingdom
Janet Anderson , Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Uzbekistan

Learning Objective 1: understand older people’s perceptions of their healthcare management regarding the use of telecare.

Learning Objective 2: identify challenges of using telecare as experienced by staff in the healthcare management of older people in the community.

Our presentation is based on a project that was designed to enable older people with health problems to remain independent at home. This case study conducted in the south of England aimed to determine the process of telecare implementation, its impact on work practices and the usability of the telecare equipments and the services offered. Six key project ‘leads' were involved in implementing telecare in the management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, dementia care, intermediate care and in fall prevention.

A multi-method approach comprising surveys, focus group and face-to-face interviews was adopted. The presentation will be based on the findings of a focus group discussion with project ‘leads' and audio-taped interviews with 17 older people and five family carers. Project ‘leads' found the implementation process challenging as its timing was not always matched by the availability of the telecare equipments, and that the ‘rush' to introduce telecare was sometimes complicated by the referrals made, and who could make the referrals. They anticipated changes in practice, which could be a result of an increased demand in the workload, such as making more visits to ensure that clients were ‘safe' with the equipment and having to enhance team and inter-professional working. There were also anxieties that telecare might result in re-admissions to hospitals.

Interviews with older people and their carers found many benefits of telecare were identified; these included ‘being on my own', ‘living independently', ‘a sense of security' or ‘a peace of mind'. Most reported few changes in the delivery of health and social care. There was universal acceptance and satisfaction with the telecare service. However, there were some problems with false activations from telecare equipments. A critical stance is required to examine policies and practices in nursing when using telecare in the community.