Technology-enabled care (TEC) offers care home residents quicker psychiatric assessment, treatment review and regular monitoring, according to a new Public Health England report, An Evidence Summary Of Health Inequalities In Older Populations In Coastal And Rural Areas.
In addition, accessing and observing the TEC clinic enabled care home staff to develop a greater knowledge and understanding of the management of dementia, increasing confidence and skills.
In the intervention, nurse-led video conference (TEC) older adult psychiatry clinics were introduced in three rural Scottish care homes. The evaluation found that by using TEC, residents received quicker assessment, treatment review and regular monitoring. Frequent reviews enabled more rapid adjustment in medication, with some residents becoming managed through behavioural plans only.
Care homes were more able to manage complex cases and challenging behaviours locally and were less likely to admit patients to hospital. Prevention of hospital admissions allowed residents to remain within their local care setting.
The intervention is still being used in the care homes and is seen as a low cost initiative. Barriers to take-up may include broadband coverage and unfamiliarity and unwillingness of older people to use certain services in this way.
Evaluation was carried out by the Rural Health and Wellbeing team at the University of the Highlands.