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The first step towards a digital future is already mapped out. Moving from paper-based documentation to digital records. Paper records are simply not going to cut it in a modern social care organisation.
But you might ponder – what’s for digitalisation? There must be other things around the corner. And you would be correct.
People have a way of becoming infatuated with the latest tech invention. Hype intensifies around technology that might not be mature enough to deliver. Let alone fit social care.
Virtual Reality, or VR, is one of those technologies. The goggles that teleport you to an alternate world you may have seen at conferences. Making it possible for service users to go on a bicycle ride in their old childhood street etc.
A neat idea but there’s more potential in the technology.
Some organisations such as Anglian Care are using Virtual Reality (VR) for staff training. It provides a more immersive and realistic experience to care workers. Care is so situational. Soft skills and interactions are essential. VR takes training sessions from theoretical to practical.
Charles Cross, COO of Anglian Care, went on our podcast Tech Care to share his experiences with VR. Beyond the cost and accessibility of using VR, they found another surprising benefit:
AI is also a hot topic. ChatGPT, Midjourney or whatever new tool is being introduced at a break-neck pace. And they come with sci-fi-like promises of fixing most of the world’s problems.
But what about social care? Can AI magically fix our sector’s challenges? Not realistically, but there are things it can help with.
The sector is already taking the first step by going digital. From video communication and messaging to social, mHealth or eHealth apps. Most of these are downloaded straight from the app stores. Plug and play.
But social care has evolved. What used to be a hospital ward is now a nursing home wing. Complexity in a care service has risen. It’s becoming harder than ever before to operate within the current care and funding model. It’s difficult to keep occupancy rates up. Difficult to stay compliant. Difficult to attract and keep qualified, or even experienced staff.
How is AI supposed to help with all that?
AI will play an integral part in the single most important innovation to come in social care.
This will change how we manage and deliver care in the UK. With enough data, DSCR systems will be able to flag people at risk. To reduce falls, malnourishment or cognitive decline.
Imagine receiving notice that certain residents’ quality of life is in decline. Or various health conditions are deteriorating. All are based on objective data. Simply there to complement the expertise of the care professionals.
Predicting things before they happen. So instead of responding to changes, you can potentially prevent them from happening in the first place.
It underlines the potential of AI. It’s not just a fad or something for other sectors.
This is happening now. In fact, we’ve been refining this with selected customers for the past 2 years.
Stop us if you have heard this story before. New invention comes in with promises of fixing all your problems. Only to fall flat on its stomach when you start to use it.
That’s the usual song and dance.
The University of Birmingham published research on AI and other data-intensive forms of technology. Specifically focused on decision-making and implementation processes for home sensors with AI capabilities.
Sensors are used to collect data on regular habits such as kettle use, flushing the toilet, getting out of bed, and opening the door. This is used to build a picture of people’s routines and flag when a significant change takes place which can be a sign of deteriorating health or well-being.
And what is the main conclusion of it?
“Everybody had a slightly different expectation about what the technology was going to achieve for them. The risk is everybody ends up disappointed because they all expected to achieve something different. When you are not aligned with what success looks like, you can’t evaluate whether the project was a success or not.” as Jon said in the Tech Care podcast.
As with any other change, it’s not really about the new thing being implemented. It’s leadership, implementation and involvement that are the main drivers. No change will endure if staff are not fully onboard.
Without the right approach, technology will remain as devices and gadgets. But with proper implementation and the right technology, artificial intelligence and virtual reality will change how we manage and deliver care in the UK.
The journey has begun…