Before I relate the story that made me think of issues regarding telehealth I must first lay my cards on the table. I am a firm supporter and advocate both of personal devices and home monitoring telehealth technology. I believe it has a major role to play in any affordable/effective home healthcare care service of the future, particularly when we are faced with a world ageing tsunami .
Jersey Post has been piloting a community care service for over a year a care service makes use of a Postal Operators infrastructure. As the only remaining service provider who has the ability to visit every house every day plus the special trust relationship between the community and the Postman / Women who delivers their mail. The service is called ‘Call&Check’ http://www.jerseypost.com/health-services/callandcheck/. Call&Check was initially developed to help keep an eye on a ageing demographic by a little social interaction, passing on any of our elders needs/requests to health professional and voluntary services or giving reminders. Most of the ageing population wants to stay in their own homes for as long as possible and this is also the view is supported by government.
Just over a month ago I held two separate meeting with groups of community elders to tell them a little of how personal and home care telehealth devices worked. I told them how there conditions could be monitored remotely either by the device automatically taking a reading or by themselves taking readings on their device. After giving my talk I sat down confident in the knowledge that I had imparted information that would give the elders present confidence in the telehealth technology that would support them in the future.
Now ! Here is the comment that made me think, at both meeting the same comment was made “ I think what you have told us is wonderful that we can be monitored remotely, but that also means another reason why we would not see someone”. My guess is the majority of the elders at the two meetings lived alone or an elderly couple living together.
I have thought about the comments made at the meeting a lot and have come to the conclusion that we must push on with telehealth technology as I believe the benefits case in now proven. With rapidly ageing communities we are going to have large numbers of people living alone and in some cases isolated, therefore we must find ways of delivering the benefits of telehealth but at the same we must not lose that physical connection which can mean so much.
Joe Dickinson, Special Projects Manager, Jersey Post. 20/04/15