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Telehealth Revolutionizes the Way Seniors Live and Take Care of themselves
By Anthony Bacon, Lifelink Telehealth/Telecare Operations Manager, Feros Care
According to Anthony Bacon, Lifelink Operations Manager, the notion of older people not embracing technology is not at all accurate. In fact, clients want to trial new solutions if they see a benefit.
Eight years ago, Feros Care had one button and box style personal alarms with six additional peripherals. Today we have a product suite of sixty different solutions and further development in the IoT that embrace smart living, smart care and smart security.
“Our expansion is being driven by clients. They are demanding dignified, stylish and modern solutions. This is one of the key reasons Feros Care has taken the approach of adapting technologies,” Mr Bacon said.
The State of Play in the Telehealth care Industry:
The aged care industry has not had a lot of research and development investment. This is because there are cheaper, easier and more consumer friendly target markets to invest in such as athletes wanting wearable technologies, and Gen Ys and Millennials who love to consume new products. They are an easier and faster sell, and this is just economics.
My team work to adapt these technologies. Technology lends itself to so many niche markets. Our rationale has been to get the product right for one market and adapt and scale it to meet other markets.
“We work with local and international developers to expand the capability of products beyond their original niche market, and to meet the needs of seniors who just want to remain living independently and safely in their own homes,” Mr Bacon said.
Telecare - The current state of play for seniors
Seniors want to stay living in their own homes. But with age comes health and mobility challenges. One way of helping seniors stay living at home for longer has been the traditional button and box, or pendant you wear around your neck to call for help in an emergency. This technology has been around for years. It’s simple and assists people to live in their own home and with confidence.
“I would like to say most seniors know, understand and welcome telecare solutions. However, worldwide research shows that only 2 percent of people over 75 years of age who live at home alone have telecare in their home,” Mr Bacon said.
The Key Reasons for a Low Adoption Rate are that:
• Clients really don’t like having to wear alarms.
• Telecare solutions aren’t well known or understood by the general public
The great news is that we’re now seeing great leaps forward with telecare, as products have become digital
• Clients often say no to having a personal alarm because they don’t think they old enough or they haven’t had an incident. Most people become clients only after they’ve had a fall.
Mr Bacon said “My mission is to change that mindset to ‘prevention is better than cure’. And this is part of the overall adapting technologies strategy and finding affordable and meaningful solutions.”
The great news is that we’re now seeing great leaps forward with telecare, as products have become digital. We now also offer passive monitoring, so seniors don’t want to have to wear a pendant. They can have their homes set up to keep them safe and with dignity, but without having to wear the old-style pendants.
Another major advantage of the telecare digital solutions is that adult children and carers can also be involved with their parent’s health and wellbeing. Known as the sandwich generation, they are often caring for elderly parents and their children. They worry about their parent being safe at home.
Passive monitoring solutions provide peace of mind for adult children. They can be part of the telecare solution, and should anything happen, they get an alert. This telecare solution is reducing the anxiety and pressure off adult children, and allowing them to get on with life.
Some clients choose not to include family into their monitoring which is perfectly fine. It’s a personal choice. The main thing is that this wasn’t an option before, and many families are choosing to be part of the process.
“So when we talk about telecare solutions, we’re talking about solutions that can positively impact the entire family by reducing stress and anxiety,” Mr Bacon said.
Who is our Telecare Client of Tomorrow?
Mr Bacon said “My client in five years-time will differ dramatically to today’s client. They are baby boomers, who generally speaking don’t settle for less, are loyal to their brands, and are not ‘old’. They are currently travelling around Australia in a caravan, and planning their next adventures using their smart phone and tablets. They Facebook their kids and grandkids, and relate to the catchphrase ‘having an adventure before dementia.’
They are a powerful consumers. They will demand innovative solutions to meet their needs. Businesses that don’t meet their needs will be passed over for the ones that can. They won’t compromise, but they will be loyal.
The Future face of Telecare
Pendant alarms will be a thing of the past. People will use their smartphones and download free or low cost apps that will provide falls detection, voice activation, and passive monitoring.
My prediction is based on our own client trend data relating to smartphones.
The breakdown of Feros Care clients shows that currently:
• 4 percent of clients 75 and over have a smart phone
• 40 percent of clients 70-75 have a smart phone
• 59 percent of clients 65-70 have a smart phone
We’ll also see a wholistic approach combining smart living, smart care and smart security. We will combine care and the IoT, ensuring people have simple DIY or professional solutions that support clients in their smart living, care and security solutions.
“More specifically, we will:
• Continue to research new and emerging technologies, and how they can be adapted to meet the needs of an ageing population
• Continue listening to our current clients and future clients on what they want more support with.
• listen and lobby government about their future plans for technology
• Closely monitor and continue to learn just what Artificial Intelligence will bring to this sector.
• Continue to seek out partnerships with where we can collaborate and pool resources,” Mr Bacon said.