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Protecting the dignity of vulnerable people through technology

Gavin Bashar, Managing Director at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses why it’s important to protect the dignity of vulnerable people and how technology can be used to achieve this while improving health and care outcomes.

By Gavin Bashar

As the health and care needs of our population change, it’s important to uphold the dignity and rights of those who use health, housing and social care services. There are a number of strategies and innovations that providers can implement to help them deliver high quality services that support the dignity of vulnerable people.

Protecting the dignity of vulnerable people

As the health and care needs of our population change and the number of older people increases, it is important that service providers understand why and how care provision can play a crucial role in protecting the dignity of vulnerable people.

Dignity can be defined as the state of being worthy of honour and respect. When it comes to health, housing and social care services, this particularly focuses on being able to provide care that is tailored to meet the needs of each individual, their circumstances and wishes.

Robust and integrated systems can be well placed to deliver improved outcomes for citizens, reducing their need for emergency and more extensive care, such as hospital admission. The longer that people are able to remain independent without the need for acute services, the more their dignity and quality of life will be protected.

The role of technology

One of the prime objectives for technology-based solutions is to put people at the heart of their own health and care needs, protect their independence and dignity, and achieve citizen-focused outcomes. With the right digital frameworks in place, services can become focused on engaging each individual with their own health and care support.

When technology is embedded seamlessly into care and support services, it can be transformative, helping people to live happy, fulfilled lives in their homes and communities. Digital tools can also be used to ensure timely and appropriate responses to emergency events, encourage greater engagement from citizens, and provide more person-centred care.

Developments in the provision, scale and quality of digital technology can support improvements in how care providers are able to collaborate and provide person centred care. The UK’s transition to a digital communications network brings a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise, improve and shift the sector and its thinking from a reactive, to a proactive delivery model. This in turn can improve health outcomes for citizens, deliver efficiencies, and enable people to live independently for as long as possible.

Investment in digital solutions will support health and social care providers in reconfiguring services to make them more agile and integrated, leading to better outcomes. Utilising data and technology to create a connected approach can also provide actionable insights to deliver more informed, and more effective care.

Importance of collaboration

Last year saw the introduction of integrated care systems (ICSs) across the UK. ICSs should help us to integrate services effectively and drive collaboration between service providers, such as care homes, GPs and hospitals. Collaboration across sectors is essential to keep people healthy, reduce inequalities, enhance productivity and value, and support economic and social development. ICSs will play a key role in enabling us to remove silos between health and social care providers, while increased collaboration will reduce duplication and fragmentation, disseminate best practice and progress in technology.

Through collaboration we can create a truly joined up approach where we listen to citizens, understand their everyday needs and work together to bridge gaps in our services. Building on ongoing collaborations will see a system begin to emerge that is better connected and user focused. The latest generation of digital solutions broaden the circle of care to engage families, friends and communities, and promote services that are connected and data-driven.

Strong relationships between health and care providers and end users is vital to ensure users feel both respected and protected. This in turn can lead to clearer communication, giving care providers the opportunity to deliver care that is targeted to the requirements of individuals.

The workplace and a cultural shift

The digital transition is an opportunity to create a clearer and consistent approach to care delivery. Collaboration is essential but to encourage this, a cultural shift must take place. While technology has sometimes previously been viewed as an additional aspect of service delivery, embedding digital solutions into services will contribute to the successful transformation of existing care models, and provide more intelligent insight to improve health outcomes and protect the dignity of vulnerable people.

Increasing system capacity and capability, as well as providing a foundation for future technological advancement, will see health and care services more able to effectively meet the changing demands of the population. There are compelling benefits for all stakeholders when it comes to technology, particularly from an economic and operational perspective. By driving education within the health and care landscape and building on an already shifting culture, we’ll see more professionals become open to the idea of using technology and transfer their skills, knowledge and experience to the people they care for, to create a digitised world.

A dignified future for care users

As people live longer, increased pressure is put on our care services. Technology has the ability to aid the management of this and potentially reduce pressure points. If successful and integrated digital services for citizens can be realised, the benefits flow will through the health and care system. If we get our approach right, citizens can live independently for longer and have more choice and control.

As we look to a more digital future, we must consider how we can best harness the power of the connected world and the value that can come from technology solutions. By committing to investment in more technological solutions, we will reform our services, improve outcomes and place users at the centre of care to protect their dignity.

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