Health officials plan rise in '˜telecare' after damning report

Health officials have responded to one of the worst inspection reports on care services for the elderly by suggesting increased use of remote telecare packages.
Remote systems could be used to improve care for the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoRemote systems could be used to improve care for the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Remote systems could be used to improve care for the elderly. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Scotland’s care watchdog last month slammed the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership describing their key processes for delivering care to the elderly as “unsatisfactory”.

Inspectors found that hundreds of frail and elderly individuals in Edinburgh had been left stuck in hospital because care packages had not been arranged. Now the care body plans to expand a range of features under the banner of Technology Enabled Care which includes an alarm service, motion sensors and floor pads to provide early intervention and prevention in a bid to allow people to remain at home and avoid hospital admissions.

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Rob McCulloch-Graham, chief officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, said that “quite a few” people did not want carers coming to visit them as they valued their privacy.

He said: “You just have to be aware that quite a few people don’t want carers coming in – they just want to lead their own lives and look after themselves and Telecare enables that to happen. If we didn’t have it then we would have to do a number of regular visits, going into people’s homes and stuff – so it does actually help with our capacity. Most people don’t want to be pestered with people coming in at certain times of the day and stuff like that.”

Professional services giant Ernst & Young, one of the so-called “big four” accountancy firms, has been assisting the council over the past year on capacity planning and managing demand for social care more effectively.

The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Immprovement Scotland made 17 recommendations for improvement and described leadership and direction as weak.

Richard Baker, communications manager at Age Scotland, said: “Telecare and new technology can be important in delivering care to older people, but for the majority of them who need care it will be necessary for a carer to provide that service. Too many older people suffer from loneliness and isolation, and for many it will be the case that their carer is their main form of human contact. So while telecare has an important role it cannot replace what an actual carer can do or the importance of the personal support for the person needing care. It cannot be an alternative to recruiting the care staff services need.”