Council to rely more on technology to care for people in their own homes
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Councils will have to rely increasingly on technology and monitoring devices to care for people within the community, according to an expert in adult social care.
Hayley Verrico, assistant director of adult support and safeguarding for North Somerset Council, says the authority is currently coping with demand but it will soon have to find other ways to support the increasing numbers of people needing help.
The authority provides care for more than 2,800 people and is expected to spend £65.3million on adult social care this year alone.
These figures will rise further as advances in medicine mean people are living longer, including those with complex physical and social needs.
Mrs Verrico said: “We are managing demand at the moment but there will be an increase in the number of people growing older and frailer and an increase in children with very complex health and social care needs entering adult social care.
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“Some of these young people have got quite significant needs and that’s another pressure point because it’s increasing every year.”
The council already uses telecare and assistive technology to help people, including alarms they can activate if they need help, devices to shut off taps and sensors on doors so family members can keep track of vulnerable relatives prone to wandering outside.
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Mrs Verrico said: “We are doing a lot of work around telecare and technology because there are people who are reluctant to have someone they don’t know in their home.
“There are other ways to deliver the services they need by fitting sensors to taps so we know if the bath is overrunning, we can put sensors on doors and on beds so relatives can monitor when they are getting up. You can link them to an iPad so you can keep track of their activities.
“I think, to manage the demand for people needing care, we are going to have to increase the use of telecare and assistive technology to supply care.
“We work on the basis of ‘home is first’. Residential care should only really be seen as a last option for someone if we can’t support them.”
To cater for people who want to remain at home, the council needs to attract more people into the profession and it has recently launched its Proud To Care campaign.
Mrs Verrico added: “The role of carers is becoming increasingly important and it’s a very rewarding job, but it isn’t one people naturally think of as a career as they don’t think there are options for career development.
“Everybody going into the care profession can do an NVQ in caring qualification which can lead into supervisory and management positions.
“People also think of caring roles as typically washing and dressing someone, but it’s now more about enabling people to be more independent.
“We don’t just provide care for elderly people, but we also support people with learning disabilities and mental health problems and people who have come out of hospital.
“A carer’s role can be about making sure they have access to the community and preventing isolation such as helping them to do their shopping or connecting with friends or attending groups.
“People who have had a hospital stay may have lost their confidence and don’t feel they can go out.
“Part of the service is about getting people back on their feet and building up their confidence.
“The caring profession is also something most people can go into and it can fit around students going to college or parents going back to work.”
Click here to find out more about care jobs in the area.