Home care is working hard to introduce technology

AMSTELVEEN Almost all Amstelveen home care organizations are on the threshold of the large-scale introduction of new technologies in home care. More and more clients are served digitally with image care. This is part 1 of a series of articles on new technology in Amstelveen elderly care.

Four out of six home care organizations already use image care or are in the process of implementing it. Amstelring has a special neighborhood learning team -Groenrijk- for digital innovations, and Zonnehuisgroep Amstelland starts a digital neighborhood team. The caregivers in this neighborhood team only help clients through image care.

For image care, employees contact the client via a screen on the tablet. For example, they ask: have you already taken your medicine? A nurse from the home care organization assesses whether video calling is suitable for a client. It is usually offered to clients with whom the home caregiver can actually ‘keep their hands behind their back’. Home care staff also always come home to the client when they have received a tablet from the care institution. It is always a combination of image care and ‘normal’ home care.

MORE QUESTIONS The main reason why home care organizations are introducing image care is to save time. Home carers can help more clients because travel time is eliminated. Forecasting based on demographic data at home care organizations that the demand for home care will increase in the future. It is known, for example, that the number of elderly households will increase by 2,500 by 2040. The largest growth will be in the number of households with residents aged 75 and older. The number of people with dementia in Amstelveen is also increasing; from 1,800 in 2015 to 3,300 in 2040.

COVER OVER The start-up of a digital neighborhood team at Zonnehuisgroep Amstelland also has practical reasons. “Previously, employees had a digital agreement between home visits,” says director of home and recovery, Michiel Wassenaar. ‘Then they had to park the car somewhere and then make a video call with the client. If they were on a bike and it was raining, they had to find a shelter. Now all the digital visits are with a team and that team is just sitting in the office. It is also a great place to work for employees with physical complaints. Home care is physically quite demanding, so they can continue to use their expertise. ”

BY MISTAKE Not all home care organizations work with new technology due to staff shortages and the growing demand for care. There are two home care organizations in Amstelveen – Home Instead Thuiszorg Amstelland and Thuiszorg Totaal Amstelland – which primarily use new technology for efficiency and cost savings. Many clients in these home care organizations have a personal alarm system. If something goes wrong, the client presses a button – which hangs with a string around his neck or wrist – and the caregiver is called. If the caregiver is not available, one comes from the home care organization. It needs to be done very quickly. “Experience has shown that the button is often pressed too quickly,” says director Carel Emmelot from Thuiszorg Totaal Amstelland, who will start testing image care this month. “People with dementia sometimes panic over something very small, and the button is often pressed accidentally. If we can get the client to contact us via the screen, it may also be possible to resolve it without anyone passing by. It saves energy from our employees. ”

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The tablet is on the desk of Zonnehuisgroep Amstelland’s clients when they receive image care. (Photo: Naomi Heidinga)

CAUTIOUS It is striking that these home care organizations are much more cautious with the introduction of new technologies. The pace is slower and the scale smaller. “We have many clients with an advanced form of dementia,” says director Gerard Bakker from Home Instead Thuiszorg Amstelland. “Then it is difficult to introduce a new form of care. It is difficult to teach these clients new forms of behavior. ”

The concept of image care is also treated with great caution at Thuiszorg Totaal Amstelland. “I can imagine some clients getting nervous about it,” says Carel Emmelot. “That they get startled when a screen suddenly turns on and there is a voice in the room.”

COACHING Zonnehuisgroep Amstelland is currently implementing screen care for forty clients, which will be scaled up to a hundred out of a total of a thousand clients in the coming months. With the help of technology, these clients can continue to live independently at home for a longer period of time, according to the home care organization. Zonnehuisgroep sees an important role for the informal caregiver in the monitoring of new technologies, such as image care. They also make use of the support options available in Amstelveen, such as buddy projects. “We try to work with the caregiver, who can guide the client in the work with the tablet,” says director Wassenaar.

PROVEN EFFICIENT In addition to video calls, home care organizations also use digital calendar systems and medication dispensers, whereby the client receives a warning signal when it is time to take the medication. The dispenser continues to give a signal until the medicine is taken out.

Some home care organizations use care robots, but not yet on a large scale. An example is Tessa, a social robot in the form of a flowerpot that provides structure for the customer’s everyday life. For example, she tells what the agenda looks like today. The fact that robots are not yet widespread is primarily due to funding. The health insurance contributes to the payment of the robots, but only if they are scientifically proven to be effective. “We notice that the robot helps certain customers”, says home technology employee Michelle Stuy from Zonnehuisgroep Amstelland, “but the robot does not save us time in care measured and therefore does not make our care more effective in number. This is an important argument that health insurance does not must finance it. ”

This series was made possible by Mediafonds Amstelveen.

Text: Suzanne Bremmers
Photo: Naomi Heidinga

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