Assisted living without pencil or paper - is it possible?

Assisted living is a complex area  of operations which involves large groups of people, including of course assisted living staff and consumers but behind the scenes there are many more professionals engaged. For the smooth running of operations there are a number of IT services which support staff, including decision documentation, initiatives to be planned and timetabled, deviations from normal routines which need to be reported, customer invoicing  and staff who need to receive their salary. The list can be made longer and all the time there is a constant stream of requests for further functions. For the municipalities, there is in all probability a great deal of money which can be saved; one concern is that the pre-requisites and existing systems look different in different municipalities. Joint statements of requirements and procurement rounds seem a long way off. The Health Technology Centre seeks to encourage the development of a flexible IT solution for home service provision.

A single solution is the ideal

"We have too many systems and these systems are unable to communicate with each other" say many of the people Anna-Lena Gyllen has interviewed during the course of a pilot study which she is carrying out on behalf of the municipalities and the Health Technology Centre. One result of the work so far is the identified need of one system, a single solution, which ensures the quality of elderly care operations through the whole chain of care provision from the placement of the order to the implementer.

But the requirements are many

IT systems in a constantly changing world must be flexible, offering freedom of choice within nursing and hospital care, patient safety and security and integrity. Collectively they should encompass the areas which increasingly focus on the way in which municipalities manage assisted living services provision. However the increasingly complex work situation of staff must also be supported. Staff have a great deal to remember, ringing nurses, ordering food, fetching and leaving keys, ringing relatives, answering calls  etc. Aids for remembering or communicative aids have made things easier for staff in their daily work. Systems should of course be well-integrated; reminders to order food, the food order itself, delivery and invoicing should all be included under the same umbrella.

When consumers get their say....

Two major workshops have been organised. At one event, staff had the task of building prototypes to see how one could design IT aids which are needed in daily work. The initiative included staff from several municipalities in the County of Halland and from a number of different professional groups, such as assisted living personnel, aid administrators, district managers etc. One proposal was a computer with a touch screen where one could obtain all the information necessary in order to carry out daily routines. In addition to work carried out during the course of the day, information is needed about any deviations from normal routines, who is present in the hospital, contact information to relatives and the digital keys to the care consumers etc. But it should also be possible to go in and see where staff are who can answer a distress call, information about medicine administration and prescription, order forms and other aspects.

.....system developers need to listen

In the future, flexible systems are needed which are suited for what one really does. Systems need to work together and be coordinated; one needs new technology which can respond to higher demands and meet a new generation of caring staff and  provide opportunities for new jobs, which  in turn make the work and the organisation more effective. ´Systems must be more intuitive and cost effective´ replies Anna-Lena when asked about how she would summarise the views of the staff.

And this is what the result might be

The Health Technology Centre was assisted by Cybercom to direct its attentions forward and ponder over what future IT aids for home care services could look like.

"We are thinking in terms of a service platform for assisted living services, which is similar to a platform with a basically simple system, building on the functions which one wants. It´s a bit like a modern mobile telephone, which one complements with the functions one wants- a bit like ´apps", says Martin Kristensson at Cybercom.

The work continues

A third workshop together with the municipalities is planned. The idea is to look into whether one can go further with a larger scale joint project.
In addition to improving assisted living services, the project will create growth in the sense that many companies can contribute and deliver services to the new system. "Follow the progress of the continued work on the Health Technology Centre´s website", concludes Anne-Christine Hertz of the Health Technology Centre.


Anna-Lena Gyllén

Anna-Lena Gyllén

Page last updated 2010-11-15
Centre for Health Technology Halland  |  Box 823  |  S-301 18  Halmstad, Sweden  |  Visiting address: Kristian IV:s väg 3, Building C