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The Recipe for Telecare Assessment

The Recipe for Telecare Assessment

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Published by Guy Dewsbury
A paper describing some of the issues with undertaking telecare assessments.
A paper describing some of the issues with undertaking telecare assessments.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Guy Dewsbury on Nov 22, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Recipe for Assessments – More on falls

Dr Guy Dewsbury www.gdewsbury.com I was watching Masterchef the other night. This is a TV food competition where people who think they can cook are put through their paces. In the first round competitors are given a set of ingredients and told to make something to impress the judges. Low and behold everyone makes a stab at producing some culinary fare suitable for royalty. The only difference is that some participants actually succeed in making truly great food whilst others produce what can only be fit for farm animal fodder. So what has this got to do with assessing for telecare? Well there is a straight analogy, which relates to standardisation processes. When an assessor undertakes a visit to person who could benefit from telecare, they are like the competitors in the Masterchef competition. No matter who visits or how the assessment is conducted they all start with the same ingredients: the person, their family, friends etc; the house structure etc... What they make of these ingredients will depend on their skills as an assessor as well as their ability to understand the ingredients and put them together in new and innovative ways. In the UK Masterchef programme the judges coo over the people who use ingredients in new ways to make exciting new tastes and put things together to make innovative new combinations that work. Telecare assessments are the same. The Dependability Telecare Assessment (DTA) tool helps develop this element of diversity and innovation in design whilst ensuring a level of dependability. So let’s illustrate this somewhat. Let us take a person who has had a number of falls. We could give them a fall detector, I hear a number of people thinking, and yes, we could, but I would suggest that there are a number of steps we need to go through before we reach our outcome.

Where does the person fall? Is it in a certain room? When does the person fall? Is it predominantly at night or daytime? Are the falls as a result of something else, such as the need to go to the toilet? What does the person do when they have a fall? If a person is falling, can press a pendant button, and is not incapacitated then a standard pendant is all that might be required. This rules out the fall detector. If a person is falling at night, perhaps a bed occupancy sensor might be useful. On the other hand, a simple sensor light (a light that is switched on by movement in the dark) could be all that is required to illuminate the way and show up any objects that they might fall over. Does the person live with someone else? If they do and this is a carer then a simple standalone alternative is a possibility. I could carry on putting questions up and answering each with a suggestion, but the point should be made, there are a number of suggestions for one issue. There is no set answer. A simple standardised tick box approach to assessing people for telecare, or for anything else for that matter, is going to lead to a poor outcome, certainly the person would not go through to the next round in Masterchef. We need to encourage diversity and innovation in telecare assessment as well as embrace new service providers if they can demonstrate their equipment is better in some way that the ones you currently use. The difficulty is that telecare is growing at such a rate and new technologies are being developed so fast that it can be hard to keep up to date. It is also the case that to actually determine whether a piece of telecare equipment is actually robust and useful is a very skilled process. I certainly agree with and support the idea of trialling anything new, but there is no point in trialling things that are clearly not good in the first place. Here again I refer you back to the DTA as a means of helping you decide whether something is worth investing time and money into.

Most importantly, The Masterchef lesson is that sometimes too many ingredients can ruin a perfectly good dish; similarly not being adventurous enough can also make a potentially great dish fail. When we assess, we must go beyond the tick box approaches to really understand what the needs of a person truly are as well as their aspirations. We need to embrace the idea that technology is not always the answer but sometimes, a little technology can make the difference between a person being dependent on help from others and actually helping themselves. ... Now I am hungry....

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