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How do older people feel about using technology?

A recent project has shown that older people with frailty still prefer the human touch when it comes to health and care.

A team from NIHR ARC Wessex and Wessex AHSN was given special funding by NHS England to look at how frail older people feel about digital remote monitoring.

The results of the listening activities highlight a number of issues that older people feel strongly about:

  • Older people value face to face contact so having support to use digital technology is important – It takes time and support to trust technology.
  • Technology needs to be easy to use with good instructions and training. Older people may also need help to get access to Wi-Fi to make sure everyone is catered for.
  • Services using digital technology need to be open about who can get access to an older patients health information if it is to be trusted.
  • Digital health support and monitoring needs to be adapted to the individual needs of an older person and consider the extra work it can create for a carer.
  • Any information held by a digital technology needs to be secure and private.

You can read the report here and find out more about the overall project on this web page.

Nicola Andrews is a researcher from ARC Wessex who worked on the project:

“This is one part of a larger project. It highlights how technology can worry older people, who may not have grown up with it all around them, like younger generations.

We are also investigating digital remote monitoring in use in Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Dorset, and evaluating its use in ‘virtual wards’ across Hampshire.”

The AHSN and ARC will look at use of Oximetry@Home by older people, a service which remotely monitors oxygen levels at home using a small device which is attached to the finger.  Another technology uses remote sensors in the home and AI technology to identify normal routines and movement in the home and highlights changes, which may indicate that their health is deteriorating.

The team is also looking at technology that is used to provide detailed remote healthcare to older people in what are called ‘virtual wards’. This is where older people stay at home and get support there through local NHS nurses and health teams. Those technologies and care teams are run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Solent NHS Trust.

It is hoped this year long evaluation of health technologies to care for older people will provide evidence about how acceptable technology is to older people and their carers, but also get an idea of how NHS staff feel about it too.