Echo Dots, Alexa and iPads - the future of care for elderly people in Hartlepool

Echo Dots and iPads can be used to improve care for elderly people in Hartlepool, councillors have heard.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 20 July, 2019, 06:00
Smart gadgets, such as the Amazon Echo Dot, are rising in popularity (Photo: Amazon) - and could be used to improve care for elderly people

Council bosses are hoping to see further improvements to its care provision for elderly people after a drop in those leaving the town for placements, and a greater focus on digital technology.

It comes as a report looking at care homes for older people in the town went before Hartlepool Borough Council adult and community based services committee.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings for the care homes in the town have remained static, with 12 rated good and four rated requires improvement.

However the number of out of borough placement admissions continues to drop, with 51 in 2016/17, 26 in 2017/18, falling to 16 in 2018/19, and just three as of the end of June this year.

As of the start of July there are also 42 vacant dual residential or nursing beds available in the borough, along with 36 residential only beds and one nursing only bed.

Coun Stephen Thomas said he was pleased to see the progress that is being made in regards to care provision for older people.

He said: “There is still a significant supply of dual registered beds in the town, so one would hope we don’t get back in that position we were in some years ago where people had to go out of town to receive nursing care.

“Also the number of out of borough placements are keeping on the low side, which is a good thing both for the individual and the family members who want to visit that person who has gone into care.

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“There’s some good signs there that things are going in the right direction.”

Danielle Swainston, assistant director of joint commissioning on the council, also added progress has been made in improving support in care homes through the incorporation of more digital technology including iPads and Amazon Echo Dots, featuring Alexa.

She also said an excellence in care event is being planned for later in the year to praise carers for their work in the area.

She said: “We are currently reviewing a digital strategy in terms of technology and we are working with our care home providers in terms of what that means for them and how it can help in terms of the digital strategy.

“We are working with our care homes in terms of reaching excellence, we are proposing an event in November, an excellence in care event, which will celebrate the people who work in our care system and make sure that they are recognised.”

Council bosses also noted a number of care homes could be due an inspection, which are unannounced, from the CQC in the coming months.

They added this could mean some of the care home ratings are updated when they give their next report in six months.