Telecare & Telehealth: Drivers for Digital Inclusion

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Earlier this week, I spend two days at Leeds University Business School, videoing the AKTIVE project conference “Technology, Care and Ageing: Enhancing Independence”. Although my role was to observe proceedings through the screen on the back of the camera, I found the whole event fascinating.

The conference theme was about the use of Telehealth and Telecare with older people. I got to see a lot of the conference, as I was asked to capture snippets of all the parallel workshops. As I went around the event, I heard a common theme emerging, which was repeated in a keynote presentation by Professor Heinz Wolff (pictured above). This was that it is essential to get people acquainted with unfamiliar new technologies before there comes a crisis in their lives which means they are forced to use them. There were many examples cited of people rejecting telecare equipment, or failing to use it as intended, because they were frightened of it, or at least extremely unfamiliar with it.

esther

Esther Rantzen at AKTIVE 2014 Conference

This is a similar theme to one of my recurring mantras for Digital Inclusion, which is that people have to be introduced to new technologies in enjoyable ways and in familiar settings, before they have to use them for formal, or in this case, life-saving purposes.

There is an audioboo below, in which I captured my immediate thoughts. I think it is imperative for the Digital Inclusion and Telecare / Telehealth communities to unite around a common agenda to build familiarity with new technologies among older people for whom they can be life-enhancing, and life-saving, tools.

 

One thought on “Telecare & Telehealth: Drivers for Digital Inclusion

  1. Agree John. In an analogue world as a mobile hairdresser I met many elderly people cut off from the world, and only a tv set for company. I realised then how important it was to bring the internet to their homes and the world to their sitting rooms. I also tried hard to get them to buy microwaves whilst they had the eyesight and dexterity to learn how to use them, so that when they were too frail to cook meals they could heat up ready prepared food. I have always tried to find ways to enable people to enrich their quality of life. Telecare is vital to help people remain in their own homes for longer. This is for their own happiness but will also save billions for the taxpayer. Therefore it is vital to build the infrastructure for them to have fit for purpose access (high quality video standard) at an affordable price (fibre is cheap as chips and cheap to run and maintain) and to get the methods of use to them before they are too old to embrace anything new. Its no good with some people after a certain point, but if they had already learnt it they are the group who would benefit the most. We have already lost 10 years in this field. We have to catch up. First has to be a working connection, and they can find out the rest online. They can communicate with friends and family, they can start to enjoy it, and then they can plan healthcare, shopping, egov and reap all the online savings and benefits a good connection brings.
    And yes, it can all come through a tv set these days…
    who needs computers?

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