MAKE MORE OF THE ASSET OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
By Robin Tuffley, marketing manager @ Clos-o-Mat
According to the Commission on Dignity in care for Older People, wellbeing is a fundamental issue on assessing needs. It further maintains that use of technology has huge potential to improve the quality of life, and should be considered, and used, more widely*.
We would all acknowledge that whilst technology can’t be used as a substitute in every situation, to replace properly trained and managed staff, access to it for those lacking mobility could enable them to enjoy a more independent life. It has a ‘knock-on’ effect all the way up the ‘supply chain’.
It makes better use of resources, freeing care staff for other duties, therefore optimising available care budgets. It enables the recipient to feel more in control, with greater dignity, independence, wellbeing- priceless attributes. It reduces pressure on carers- whether care staff or family members- in other ways- it reduces physical and mental strain on them, and thus reduces their need to seek medical attention. It can reduce need for the client to go into residential care.
There have been numerous studies over the years that reinforce the concept: indeed, the Office for Disability Issues’ own report into the evidence of the Better Outcomes, Lower Costs proves that the equipment pays for itself within months, and then produces significant, ongoing savings, as has been paid for, and there is no continuing care provision cost.
In today’s care industry, assistive technology is predominantly perceived to be telecare, which is indeed being more widely used. But in fact, assistive technology refers to any “product, device, or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customised, that is used to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities”. It can therefore be as diverse as the moulded grip to help someone with limited manual strength open a jar through to stairlifts, and, of course, toilet aids such as wash & dry toilets, toilet lifters!
The Better Outcomes report itself actually cites the benefits of installing a wash & dry (automatic) toilet, maintaining its provision delivers a better outcome not just financially, but in terms of the dignity and autonomy it brings to the user, compared to having a carer lift them on and off a commode. As the report claims, same money, better outcome.
In fact, if the wash & dry toilet, for example, has been provided by, and remains an asset of the social housing provider- be it local authority or housing association- the ‘better outcome’ is potentially even greater… We have the unique ability, because we manufacture our toilets ourselves, in the UK, to take the unit out of one home when no longer required, return it to our factory for complete refurbishment, for it to be installed at an alternative location, to bring that dignity and autonomy and savings again. A one-off cost that delivers results for years, making it literally a few pence per use. What cost for a care worker to visit just to help someone on and off a commode?
The sad thing is, the Better Outcomes report was originally commissioned almost two decades ago. Care budgets are under ever growing pressure. The report proves the logic of enabling people to remain independent by giving them the tools to do so. Yet we still think in very confined terms re provision of care support, home adaptations. Technology is constantly evolving. We have growing numbers of people needing help to remain independent.
So is it time we took to heart the advice of 20 years ago, and delivered Better Outcomes for Lower Cost? Yes, as a company, we have a vested interest, but regardless, it makes common sense to use assistive technology better, more widely- be it that jar grip or a wash & dry toilet!
Tel 0161 969 1199