Technology in the home can significantly improve the experiences of older people.
What is Telecare?
Telecare uses technology such as phones, tablets or video equipment to provide support and social care from a distance. It can provide a 24-hour connection between a person in their home and a trained Call Advisor in a 24-hour monitoring centre.
Basic telecare systems consist of an emergency panic button which can be worn as a wristband or pendant (around the neck), and a two-way speech unit usually located in the hallway of the home (or a central point). In an emergency situation the alarm button on the wristband or pendant can be pressed for help to immediately connect through the two-way speech unit to Call Advisor in the 24/7 monitoring centre. The trained call-handlers can then arrange for the appropriate help and response following a telephone assessment (triage).
Many other devices can transmit a signal to the two-way speech unit for added 24/7 support in every room of the home. These pieces of telecare equipment include:
- automatic fall detectors
- smoke detectors
- carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms
- flood detectors
The devices are generally wireless and easy to install around the home.
By providing a 24-hour link to a monitoring centre telecare systems help many people, including the older people, people with disabilities (and many others) to stay independent and feel safer while at home.
The Seniors Alert Scheme (SAS) provides funding for a personal monitored alarm, connected to a contact centre to enable older persons, aged 65 years or older , to live more securely in their homes. More information on the scheme can be found on the Pobal website.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth uses technology, such as computers phones and tablets, to access health care services and support. These may be technologies used from home or by a health care profession to improve or support health care services. There are a number of ways that telehealth can support people to live at home while having access to healthcare. Examples of telehealth include:
- Using a mobile phone or other device, in conjunction with other devices such as blood pressure monitors, to upload daily vital signs (as well as other information such as food logs, medications, behaviours, daily activity) which are triaged by a nurse who responds electronically
- Using an online patient portal to see test results, schedule appointments, request prescription refills or email the doctor
- Ordering medications online
- Having a mobile (virtual) appointment with the GP or Consultant
- Watching videos on specific chronic diseases on phone or tablet.
- Using diagnostic apps to support chronic disease management
- Receiving email, text or phone reminders for flu injections, repeat prescriptions, primary care appointments etc.
HSE Digital Transformation
The HSE is working to help their users engage with Ireland’s health services online and manage and improve their health and wellbeing. This is being managed by the HSE Digital Transformation Unit. More information on this initiative can be found on the HSE Digital Transformation website.