iCareHealth recently attended the 2014 Aged Care Services Association (ACSA) National Conference in Adelaide. With the theme Coming of Age – Redefining Ageing, attendees from across the not-for-profit and faith-based aged care sector enjoyed sessions with leading aged care researchers, CEO’s and technology experts. Today we continue our two part series by looking at a conference session on the technological advancements in aged care.
One of the more popular sessions at the 2014 ACSA National Conference was a master class on the topic, Technology Coming of Age – Perspectives on Engaging with Robotics. This panel discussion featured a family carer, a service provider, an engineer and a researcher; all discussing the future of robotics and assistive technologies in aged care. Throughout the session, Professor Wendy Moyle and Professor Michael Blumenstein from Griffith University highlighted that the inclusion of robotics in aged care is not something to fear, nor will it ever remove the need for human interaction in aged care. The emphasis of robotics, they explained, was instead to be an adjunct to human care.
For home care recipients who have limited outside contact or ability to leave their home, companion robots can be an excellent resource of comfort and friendship. These robots are increasingly popular in Japan and throughout several Western countries, and many are programmable to perform basic chores or alerts; such as a reminder to take medication. Not only do these robots provide companionship for many elderly people living on their own, they also allow home care providers to focus their visits on the most important tasks, as some of the more basic jobs can be completed by the robot.
Robotics in residential aged care facilities are another form of assistive technology that will soon become common place. The PARO robot – a 2.7kg soft, fluffy baby harp seal – is designed to mimic the positive effects of animal therapy for residents of aged care facilities. Having a pet dog or cat that lives permanently in a residential facility can bring about a set of challenges for the pet, such as over feeding, under walking and stress due to the amount of people. The PARO robot, however, can mimic many real traits, such as displaying emotions through facial features, responding to touch with movement, as well as making soft noises. These robots have been found to be a great mechanism for relieving stress and agitation, particularly in residents with dementia.
Professors Moyle and Blumenstein explained about robots in Japan that have been developed to feed and lift aged care residents. Feeding robots are designed to sensitively and intelligently feed residents who are no longer able to do so themselves. Lifting robots – such as the Robot for Interactive Body Assistance (RIBA) – can lift residents from their beds and into a chair, and studies have shown that many people prefer to be lifted by RIBA rather than a human as they feel safer and more comfortable. These pieces of technology allow workers in residential facilities to focus on the tasks and care that only humans can provide.
While the use of robotics is increasing in home and residential care, so is the use of software solutions to create operational efficiencies and reduce risk. Clinical documentation software helps providers to easily view and enter important information about a resident at the point of care. This information can then be reported for management and compliance, supporting providers to deliver the best care possible. As the demand for aged care in Australia continues to grow, technology will become even more integral in providing high quality and effective care.
In which ways has your business improved delivery of care through the use of technology?