Over the past 6 months we have recognised the investment in technology that the Elder Care sector has made. The scope and use cases seem broad but are generally centred around access to medical information and resources by staff, but with equal emphasis on providing more flexible means of communication for residents.
There is an obvious link between internet access and the ability for older people to stay in touch with their families through applications such as Facetime and Skype, however when you analyse the scope and breadth of media and content available, a solidly performing wi-fi infrastructure will converge and develop the ability to deliver value to staff and tenants, and could be a deciding factor when residents and families are considering their care options.
Streaming: iTunes, Netflix and BBC i-player allow residents to watch or ‘catch up’ when they want and promotes flexibility for residents throughout the day to engage in their favourite TV and radio shows from all available sources. Internet streaming services open up the possibilities for archived classics, masterpieces and general easy viewing and listings through one or two easily navigated applications.
Welfare: Easy access to loved ones through Skype and Facetime ensure more regular family interaction, however more and more Elder Care facilities are streaming community-based events such as Sunday Services to ensure that residents stay in contact with their communities. The therapeutic benefits are also obvious, with rich content through access to photographs and online tools allowing dementia patients to awaken memories which, in turn reduces stress and improves wellbeing.
Healthcare: Wi-fi can be the difference between allowing a medical professional to review symptoms urgently and making clinical decisions without delay or discomfort to residents. The ability to qualify symptoms, and make educated calls to reduce the pressure of A&E staff as well as NHS admissions can only be a positive benefit as it clearly reduces stress, time and the strain on National Resources.
Business benefits: Whilst the residential and wellbeing benefits are easily measured, the business benefits allow for easy communication, access to online resources and a clear reduction in management time, which essentially allows staff to interact more effectively and get on with the business of caring.
Whilst the benefits are far reaching, the deployment of public wi-fi can invariably be a public disaster if not designed and implemented correctly. The methodology is simple, in that firstly you must assess the needs of the business, secondly ensure you have the necessary available internet resource available, and thirdly, have a comprehensive RF survey to assess and clarify the placement and volume of wi-fi connectivity you will need, to ensure the best outcome for staff and residents.