Prevention and early intervention: the technology of independence

Helping people stay well, independent and active for as long as possible is another stated aim of the White Paper. Services such as telehealth and telecare are leading the way. From the remote monitoring of a person’s condition, to the provision of domestic mobility devices, more people are staying in their homes for longer, allowing time to plan properly for their future care. The White Paper, it is hoped, will help generate more stories like the one below…

Sixty-year-old Joe Barr lives in St Keyne, Cornwall with his wife and two dogs. He has a number of long-term conditions, including COPD, diabetes, kidney disease and obesity. Telehealth was fitted into Joe’s home in August 2009 to monitor his COPD.

What was your quality of life like before telehealth?

I have four main long term illnesses which I need to be careful about and be responsible for. I used to see the GP a lot as a result.

How has telehealth benefited you?

Telehealth monitors my body. If there is anything wrong I know I am going to get a phone call from someone to discuss it with me, and advise me what to do. To give you an example, one day I took my readings as usual in the morning and had been experiencing some pain in my chest going down the left hand side of my arm. I thought it could be my heart. I didn’t want to worry my wife so took myself down to the doctors where they ran an ECG and confirmed there was a problem with my heart.

I got back home to be greeted by my wife at the door who said: “What’s wrong – have you been having a problem with your heart?” She explained the telehealth nurse had rung in shortly after I left for the doctors, asking that I should contact her urgently. They knew something was happening as a result of what the readings were telling them!

Since using telehealth I have been to see my GP a lot less. I understand more about my readings and how they relate to my condition.

Is there anything you particularly like about telehealth?

It’s about caring for myself and taking responsibility for my illnesses. It helps me manage my conditions.

Case study reproduced with the kind permission of Peninsula Community Health

What is telehealth?

Telehealth employs monitoring equipment to record and measure patient’s physiological status and health conditions. In tandem with individually created chronic disease management regimes, it can significantly enhance an individual’s quality of life. Electronic sensors or equipment monitor vital health signs remotely from home or while on the move.

What is telecare?

Telecare helps people, especially older and more vulnerable individuals, to live independently and safely in their own home. It includes services that incorporate personal and environmental sensors in the home, and remotely, that enable people to remain safe and independent in their own home for longer.

The 3 million lives campaign

On 5 December 2011 the Department of Health published the headline findings from the Whole Systems Demonstrator (WSD) programme, the world’s largest randomised control trial of telehealth and telecare services. The potential for telehealth and telecare is enormous and Paul Burstow MP, Care Services Ministers, has made clear the Government’s commitment to work with industry to improve the lives of three million people over the next five years, by increasing access to telehealth and telecare technologies as an integral part of health and care services.

For more information, go to:

Staying independent


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