Over two thirds of councils in Wales are switching from analogue to digital technology to enhance their telecare service offering, a report has revealed.
The report, by digital connectivity consultancy FarrPoint, states that the main catalysts for the change across all councils surveyed were a desire to improve and extend services, “demographic change”, “delivering integrated health and care services”, and “the need to work more closely with other health and care providers”.
The research, conducted using a combination of questionnaires and workshops with stakeholders, showed that “67% of survey respondents agreed, or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I am worried about the digital transition’ and only 19% stated they had a formal plan for transitioning their services to digital telecare” (all councils were surveyed, but only 15 out of 22 councils answered this question).
FarrPoint acknowledge that it will be challenging for several telecare providers to switch to digital technology but believe the transition will be worthwhile.
Richard Parkinson, director at FarrPoint, said: “Technology advances mean individuals can be supported in every stage of life. Telecare is an extremely positive way in which we can support the most vulnerable in society, allowing them to continue to live independent lives, often from the comfort of their own home.
“The digital switchover will be a hurdle for many of the telecare providers across Wales, but it is one that they absolutely must overcome. As a result, more residents will be able to benefit from these types of services, providing the support and peace of mind to allow them to live independently in their own homes.”
It is predicted that by the end of 2025, telecare services are expected to rely on digital technologies as well as the availability of high-speed, digital connectivity, which is currently being deployed in areas across Wales.
TEC Cymru, the programme that supports the shift to technology enabled care in Wales, therefore wanted to conduct an in-depth analysis into the Welsh telecare landscape to assist future improvements. Funded by the Welsh Government and hosted by NHS Wales, they commissioned FarrPoint’s report.
Aaron Edwards, telecare lead at TEC Cymru, added: “This report provides the first analysis into the current state of the sector in Wales and will be crucial to reshaping services with the citizen in mind. It also highlights the disparity between the access, cost and type of services that citizens have depending upon where they live.
“FarrPoint has previously done similar work in Scotland and England, which brought a valuable perspective on the rollout of digital telecare from across the UK. TEC has the potential to help huge numbers of people continue to live independently, and we’re committed to improving services across Wales, helping as many people as possible access the care they need.”
Wales are looking to follow in the footsteps of Northern Ireland, who rolled out a telehealth solution to assess patients who have had a suspected stroke last December.