Director of ARMED, Brian Brown, talks about the current pandemic and how planning now for consecutive waves could help ease ongoing pressures and maintain the wellbeing of our most vulnerable individuals.
With the UK now reporting the highest death toll in Europe as a result of COVID-19, many are still eagerly awaiting news of the current lockdown measures being lifted, as is currently happening with some of our European neighbours. Yet as some restrictions are eased, warnings of a more deadly second and even a third, wave of the virus are generating headlines around the world.
While care delivery has - and continues to - change on an almost daily basis, many of the community managers I speak to regularly are well aware that these new waves will most certainly hit community services harder over the coming weeks and months, post-lockdown.
Until now, significant focus has, understandably, been placed on acute services and how there will be enough ICU beds. However, it is these subsequent waves which will place even greater pressures on acute services if left unchecked, especially if they hit during the winter, thereby further increasing the risk for vulnerable individuals.
Keeping people safe while in isolation has been the main priority for professionals during this current wave, but focus will now need to shift to planning around how to treat those who may have urgent non-COVID conditions, the impact of interrupted care for those with chronic conditions and, of course, the impact the pandemic is having on people’s mental health. Many of these people will have led largely sedentary lifestyles over the past six weeks and will continue to do during the weeks/months ahead.
Negative changes to a person’s daily health and activity levels would normally be picked up by a health professional on their regular support visit but when that is taken away, we anticipate these scenarios will increase. So what if technology could be used as a preventative health measure for those who are vulnerable in the community?
We have already seen technology benefit people, both professionally and personally, during this pandemic and while the benefits have always been acknowledged, now they are being taken seriously.
A lot of local authority areas have suggested that they are now, thankfully, able to start pausing for breath so I believe now is the time to get things in place before the next waves hit, such as new resources that can support care quality and delivery. Indeed, it has been reported that if the correct measures are put in place, we could avoid a second wave altogether and I believe technology certainly has a role to play in that.
As a result, we have decided to offer our wearable prevention technology platform, ARMED, free for three months. This innovative technology was developed in recognition of the growing importance of prevention and self-management; something that is all too imperative in these uncertain times.
This pandemic has brought to light just how technology could hugely reduce the burden on healthcare professionals, while strongly supporting the concept of ageing well and preventing further health issues.
For many older and vulnerable people, the risks associated with living alone and the subsequent worry, can greatly impact their mental, as well as physical, health. From real-life experience, we know that the wearable device provides access to real-time information supporting people to live independently at home for as long as possible.
Users have also said they feel secure while wearing the technology, safe in the knowledge that real-time data and analytics are being flagged not only to them, but also to a range of professionals. This monitoring of any gradual deterioration ensures warning flags are raised in good time for action to be taken by the individual and support to be given by those in charge of their care, which is more important than ever now during this period of isolation.
By empowering wearers and encouraging self-management, there is also the potential to save an already strained NHS millions of pounds.
Health and social care delivery is already having to change on an unimaginable scale and, with current predictions of a second wave, they are sure to continue doing so. However this happens, we believe technology certainly has a huge role to play.