Outcomes for Older Telecare Recipients: The Importance of Assessments
Summary This article explores the role of telecare assessment, review and staff training in meeting the needs of older people living at home. Using original empirical data obtained from an online survey of English local authorities it reveals considerable variation in assessment and review practice and in training given to social work and other staff who assess and review, which may impact on outcomes for telecare users. The study findings are situated within an English policy context and earlier findings from a large, government funded randomised controlled trial. This trial concluded that telecare did not lead to better outcomes for users. Findings Our survey findings suggest that it may be the way in which telecare is used, rather than telecare itself that shapes outcomes for people who use it, and that ‘sub-optimal’ outcomes from telecare may be linked to how telecare is adopted, adapted and used; and that this is influenced by staff training, telecare availability and a failure to regard telecare as a complex intervention. Application The findings may help to reconcile evidence which suggests that telecare does not deliver better outcomes and local authority responses to this which either discount or contest its value. The article suggests that to use telecare to achieve optimal outcomes for older people, social workers, care managers and other professionals involved in assessing for telecare will need to be given enhanced training opportunities, and their employers will need to perceive telecare as a complex intervention rather than simply a ‘plug and play’ solution.
The article explores both telecare in relation to its composition of assistive technologies, including sensors; and associated services that use such technologies as a means by which, often vulnerable, people can obtain help through their activation - with signals being routed to monitoring centres. The context is one where there are changes to such technologies and ongoing growth in the use of telecare services - despite there being no indicated benefits from a major study (the Whole System Demonstrators). The 'curious' investment in such technologies and services by Adult Social Care Departments in England is investigated through an interview survey that elicited over 100 valid responses. Iy gave particular attention to the assessment process by which effective targeting (to those who would be most likely to benefit) would, it had been assumed, have taken place. Key outcomes point to needed improvements to social care practice - including the need to balance a narrow focus on risk (determined in a largely top-down way) with other telecare offerings that could more proactively address (e.g. loneliness) and involve the user more proactively in relation to technology and service options. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
Citation : Woolham, J., Steils, N., Fisk, M., Porteus, J. and Forsyth, K. (2019) Outcomes for Older Telecare Recipients: The Importance of Assessments. Journal of Social Work,
Research Institute : Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes