How will care homes look in the future?
The world population is growing, meaning that the individual needs of older generations are becoming more complex. Care homes will therefore need to use greater amounts of, and more intelligent, assistive technologies.
In the long-term, staff and care home providers will need to prepare for a more sustainable living environment to house patients that require round the clock care and supervision.
With doubts surrounding the future of care homes due to a lack of government funding, MediaWorks has assess how care homes will be run in the future, and looked at the technologies that will revolutionise the way people are cared for together with Royal Blind – specialists in care homes for the blind and care homes in Paisley,
Quality over quantity?
Care homes are keen to promote quality as the heart of their ethos in the next 20 years, as research has suggested – and that stands for both private and public-sector care homes. This is because it has been suggested that this strategy has the potential for people to ‘live healthier and longer lives,’ as Jane Ashcroft suggested in the Silver Chic report in the future of care homes.
With residents requiring an exposure to sunlight, care home designs will have to reflect this infrastructure with housing being implemented onto a turntable. As well as this, connectivity will also be a priority to help combat loneliness. To do this, care villages will use small bridges intersecting various gardens so that residents will closer to both their natural environment and other residents within the community.
Technology is becoming more advanced across the board and the future of care homes is no exception. Technology is implemented to help to ensure that patients remain safe within care homes while allowing them to live longer, healthier lives. For example, care homes are now beginning to utilise sensors in rooms and systems within the building that alert staff when a patient has fallen, or when they have stopped moving.
To help those living with dementia, clusters within buildings can be coloured variously with different lighting so that they are able to recognise their own living quarters.
Whilst sensors aim to improve the security and safety of patients living within care homes, sensor technologies can also be swallowed when combined with drugs in pill form. Once the pill has been swallowed and dissolved in the stomach, a signal is transmitted and data can be sent to a smartphone app.
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Cleverly, this technology allows patients and clinicians to track how well patients are adhering to their medication; if they aren’t taking well to a certain type of medication, then this can be rectified as early as possible and the medication can be changed to benefit the patient’s health and needs.
Other versions of this technology include an automated dosage system developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Small, implantable devices can release medication from inside the body, controlled by an embedded microchip. For people with long-term conditions – or for women on contraception, dosages can be given for up to ten years without patients having to physically induce medication.
These types of technologies are specifically designed to ensure patient comfort, and help to guarantee their safety while living in care.
The majority of older people are keen to keep hold of their independence and technologies of the future are enabling those with specific care requirements to live their life in a more self-sufficient way.
Wearable technologies are currently used by patients and residents to monitor heart rates, steps, and distance covered – but in the future, they will help to monitor fluid retention and respiratory rates. This will help lower hospital admissions, allowing patients to understand their own symptoms more effectively before they require medical assistance.
Known as hospital-level diagnostics in the home, portable x-ray machines and blood-testing kits alongside other technologies provide those who require care with a better quality of life by giving them the independence to self-diagnose themselves without having to leave their homes or point of care.
For dementia sufferers, robotics can be used to help deal with extreme stress – used within robotic pets that can respond to human touch and respond in an intelligent way. To help with specific care tasks, robots will provide general tasks such as helping patients get in and out of bed, whilst wearable robotic suits will be used to help sufferers from arthritis stand and walk, and they will also help those with severe mobility problems get around more comfortably.
Technological accessories such as robotically controlled curtains and lighting that respond to voice commands can also be fitted within a patient’s room. Other devices will be used to help those who are blind and have visual impairments.
Some of these technologies aren’t quite there yet but the future of care homes looks bright – for both patients and staff. The technologies that are already being utilised, and the systems that are being proposed, will help patients lead more independent and comfortable lives so that they can live a happier and healthier life for longer.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”