Caring for the elderly, vulnerable and those with disabilities is an incredibly rewarding role. It’s also a difficult and demanding career, and those that pursue it don’t often get the recognition and rewards they deserve for working difficult shifts and long hours, often at unsociable times. However, technology is helping to take away some of the stresses and challenges of their work, says Josh Hough, MD and founder at CareLineLive.
For many elderly and vulnerable individuals, carers will have been their only point of contact throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, stepping in when family cannot due to safety rules and lockdown regulations. Carers have gone above and beyond the call of duty throughout the past 12 months, which has noticeably changed the perception of carers as many more have come to rely almost exclusively on their support.
As those in the home care sector continue to work tirelessly on the frontline to keep our vulnerable safe and healthy, society is finally beginning to see their role as a profession rather than a low-paid and low-skilled job. Alongside this, innovations in technology are emerging that not only ensure clients receive the best care, but also ensure carers themselves receive invaluable help and support to make their roles easier.
Freeing up more time to care
The impact of technology in the care sector is that it is enabling carers to do what they do best – delivering safe, compassionate and effective care. The digitisation of processes, such as rostering, for instance, allows home care agency managers to make last-minute rota changes that can be communicated to carers in real-time using smart phones, rather than relying on person-to-person contact for the collection of paper print-outs or spreadsheets. This gives carers on the front line an up-to-date and accurate picture of where they’re needed and in what capacity, freeing them from time-consuming phone calls and cumbersome cross-referencing.
Similarly, payroll and expenses systems can be streamlined and automated, making it possible for carers to log their time and track mileage almost effortlessly. While these may sound like small gains, they remove a huge burden from the shoulders of carers who simply want to focus on performing their duties in the best way they possibly can. Less time spent on calculating mileage, logging hours and checking spreadsheets means more time to care, and that’s to everybody’s benefit.
Making it easier to deliver better care
Carers derive an immense amount of job satisfaction from being able to do their job well, delivering personalised care to each and every client. However, with such busy schedules and an increased caseload during the pandemic, providing such personalised one-on-one care isn’t always easy. Technology is also proving invaluable in this regard.
A carer might have several visits or more on a given day, and they’ll often be sharing care duties for particular clients with other carers covering the same area. It’s therefore important that carers are able to exchange information, such as what medication a client is taking and what their care preferences are, and technology allows for a much easier ‘handover’ of this data. This enables carers to be the best they can be at performing their role without being held back by a lack of information or clunky time-intensive processes that are vulnerable to misinformation and lack of detail.
The pandemic has revealed just how critical home care workers are to our communities. The reframing of caregiving in our minds as a profession rather than a job can only be a good thing as we come to depend on them even more in the months and years to come. Technology will no doubt continue to play a crucial role in alleviating some of the pressure care workers find themselves under. It’s high time we started caring for our carers, because if carers’ lives are made easier, we all stand to benefit.