By Kevin Smith, President, and Chief Operating Officer
Home care agencies provide customized service and individualized care aimed at maintaining their clients’ independence and sense of dignity. One’s ability to remain at home, regardless of physical or mental health conditions, can engender a sense of pride. The human touch provided by home care aides can help keep clients at home longer and, in some cases, preserve existing family units. However, as family caregivers and adult children live further from their parents’ than they have in the past, home care agencies are helping their clients to leverage technology services in order to streamline communication, reinforce care planning and prevent hospitalizations or re-hospitalizations.
One way in which tech companies are helping home care agencies streamline communication is through the development of voice assistance for Amazon Echo with Alexa. Voice assisted technology can be implemented with an Amazon Echo device. From there, the device can be programmed to receive, store, transcribe and send records of verbal communication to a designated recipient. A caregiver can complete their home care shift and provide a verbal report into an Amazon Echo device – recapping the day’s events as well as any concerns or anecdotes about the client’s status. A written transcription of this report can then be emailed directly to an adult son or daughter living in a different time zone.
From a family caregiver perspective, the ability to program technology within a device which would then remind a loved one to take their medicine would further reinforce the role of the home care worker. In the event that a worker was absent, the family would have peace of mind knowing that the device could prompt their loved one to take a specific dosage of medication. These devices can also be programmed to ask a follow-up question to the client to confirm that medication was taken. The same principles apply to other aspects of caregiving whereby the device would ask the client a series of predetermined questions regarding their plan of care. For example, “did you perform your physical therapy routine yet?”
While voice-assisted technology offers a preventative element and also serves as a tremendous supplement to high-quality home care, other – more traditional items – like LifeLine and PERS (Personal Emergency Response Systems) equipment remain vital. Engaging a wearable LifeLine bracelet or necklace allows emergency responders to arrive quickly and intervene. This way a client will not remain on the floor or in an otherwise compromising situation waiting for help. Especially if they lack the ability to move independently.
Considering these methods of technology individually or holistically, it becomes clear that their functionalities can help individuals remain at home and out of hospitals. As clients age in place, competent home care agencies will continue to tailor their plan of care based on individual needs. Savvier agencies will help their clients implement and adapt to assistive technologies where necessary in order to keep people at home longer.