The growing elderly population is a global trend which, coupled with an increase in the number of people living with Long-Term Conditions (LTCs), increases demand for health and care services, with associated fiscal strains, in all societies.
More care is being demanded in the community, and an increasing number of people need and want to become more independent.
The strain on care services is already taking its toll and it is likely to get worse. Continuing with the same models of delivery is not going to be sustainable. New approaches and service delivery models need to be found that will deliver more efficient and effective care, whilst maintaining safe and good quality services.
People need to be equipped with the right products and services to help them become more independent and to be better supported in managing their own care. This includes disabled children and adults, to ensure they have the same life expectations, opportunities and outcomes as other citizens. Services also need to be geared toward prevention and early intervention to avoid unnecessary and costlier episodes of care later on.
To address some of the concerns above there needs to be better deployment of assistive technologies. If used strategically these can support health and care services significantly and meet a range of government policy aims, but services need to be more connected together with a coherent strategy.
If services are properly connected with the right leadership and strategy in place, effective provision of the various assistive technology services will improve outcomes for disabled and older people, including social inclusion and quality of life, and reduce the burden on the state by enabling independent living, enhancing employment prospects and empowering and equipping individuals to take control of their own lives – all of which have a part to play in tackling the worldwide problem of funding longevity.
There is now a greater emphasis on ‘prevention’. But to fully support the prevention agenda, strategic deployment of assistive technologies is needed; but this cannot be just one category of assistive technology. We need to start looking at the ‘whole-person needs’ and design assistive technology services around the person. The technologies are already available; they just need to be deployed more wisely.
Connecting assistive technology related services will not only meet the needs of disabled and older people and carers more effectively, it will also help to manage budgets and reduce unnecessary waste in the system.