About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can the healthcare industry use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors?
Essay response by Mariana de Maille
I live in California and my grandfather lived in Indiana. My grandfather was a very proud man and despite being 89 years old, still had his mental faculties and was in pretty good health. My grandmother spent 8 years in a nursing home with advanced Parkinson’s disease. My grandfather dying wish was to die in his home and never step foot again into a nursing home. Keeping to his wishes, my parents had arranged with a local “Senor Concerns” non-profit to check in one him a few times a week.
Unknown to us, he refused to let the caregiver into his home. The caregiver just stopped showing up to his door and never notified the company. Technology could have prevented this.
I have a few ideas. First a caregiver needs to call into to an automatic tracking system when one arrives at the senior’s house. The call needs to be made on the house phone, not a personal cell phone. If a call is missed, after a designated amount of time (perhaps 10-15 minutes) the caregiver, patient, and patient’s family need to be notified. This protects both the patient and caregiver. The caregiver could have been in an accident or seriously ill. This more importantly helps the senior patient. If the patient is unable to open the door, they may be in need of emergency medical attention.
Technology can also be used for monitoring and tracking prescriptions. Perhaps medicine could be put in a tracking devise. If a dose is missed, reminders can be sent to the senior, caregiver, and family member. My suggestion is a totally integrated medication administration program with prescription scheduling.
After each time a caregiver visits the patient, the caregiver needs to input visit notes about how the patient is, what they ate, what medicine they took, current concerns and needs. Family members, patients, and the healthcare company need to have full access of the caregiver’s notes. This could be set up in a shared internet communication site.
There should also be a calendar at this shared site. The calendar should include the caregiver’s schedule, patient vacations, patient doctor visit, planned activities (church group, grocery shopping, movies, etc.). The calendar will be another vehicle of communication for the healthcare company, patient and family members.
There should be another section at the site about the patient. Caregivers may change. If a ‘substitute” worker comes, they need to know the medical history of the patient, likes, dislikes, hot buttons, etc.
Finally I suggest a system for pairing the patient with the caregiver, similar to Match.Com. Does the patient prefer a female or male, how strong does the caregiver need to be, is lifting involved, do they smoke; can the care giver also take care of pets? It is vital for the patient and caregiver is compatible.
About Mariana de Maille
Mariana is currently a student at William Smith College in Geneva, NY.