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Top tips to help someone live independently

Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director of market-leading provider of Connected Care and Health solutions Tunstall Healthcare, advises ways that carers can help those they care for live independently for longer.

According to research released by Carers UK, over 6.5 million people in the UK dedicate their time to caring for their loved ones.

For many older people, or those unable to physically care for themselves, independence means being able to stay in their own homes, however this can sometimes have a detrimental impact on the mental and physical health of their carer.

With the help of technology, medical advice and support from loved ones, caring for someone at home doesn’t have to be such a mammoth task.

Prepare the home

Telecare and telehealth have a vital role to play in supporting carers and the people they care for. Telecare is a system of wireless sensors placed around the home, which immediately detect risks such as fires, floods and falls. As soon as any risk is detected by one of the sensors, an alert is sent to a telecare monitoring centre via a central Lifeline home unit using the phone line or mobile network. Users can also wear a pendant device around their neck or on their wrist, which enables them to request help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year from anywhere in their home. Alerts are received at a specialist monitoring centre where trained operators can talk to the user via the Lifeline and send an appropriate response, such as a family member, keyholder or emergency services. These connected communication systems can also be used to alert a carer in the home directly via a pager, or during the night by a vibrating pad under the pillow. 

“For carers, telecare offers round the clock reassurance and can give the opportunity to have some well-deserved ‘me’ time, leaving them safe in the knowledge that the person they’re caring for has a means of calling for help when they’re elsewhere in the property or away from home.

Telecare works best when implemented alongside carer support, so it isn’t intended to replace vital human interaction. It does, however, aid carers struggling to manage the emotional and physical needs of their loved ones.”

Old lady in wheelchair - Top tips to help someone live independently

Emergency contacts and procedures

“For older people living independently, it’s important to be prepared because in the event of a fall or medical emergency, every second counts. Make sure there is a log of all required medicine, allergies and emergency contact details at an accessible place in the home. It’s important to have a rota of people checking in on the house and leave a key in a key safe, so they can gain entry in the case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to ensure the key isn’t left in the lock inside the door, preventing access from outside.

Whilst technology can never replace human contact, it can help carers to continue to care, enabling them to leave the house or get a good night’s sleep, confident they will be alerted if a crisis occurs.”

Emotional support

“Both carers and loved ones can fall victim to loneliness and isolation, so it’s important to ensure both parties are getting the right support. Calling in help from friends and family will alleviate the pressure on carers and allow them to complete day-to-day tasks, go on holiday or see friends.

“Not only will this free up time to take a break, it will provide variety and stimulus for the person that is being cared for. Most local authorities and charities offer some kind of sitting or befriending service, in the case where friends and family are not available. Depending on how much support is needed, check-ins may also be in the form of a regular phone or video call.

“Other options include investing in a smartphone or tablet, to help the individual living at home to stay connected with friends and family. This also provides the option for a phone conversation where a physical visit isn’t necessary, freeing up the carer’s time to do other things. Many local communities run beginners computer lessons or basic exercise classes, activities which will keep people engaged and help give them a sense of purpose, something we all need.”

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