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How Technology is Improving Home Care

Written by Julia Tortorice
Photo by: Joe Shlabotnik (Flickr)

Photo by: Joe Shlabotnik (Flickr)

Imagine your patient’s joy in being able to actually see his or her family!

Nurses think about continuing education all the time. We just don’t always think about continuing our education in technology so much. We’re focused on our certifications, licensing, and specialized classes. It’s understandable, we’ve got a full plate, but if you aren’t thinking about computer technology as part of your continuing education, you should be. Particularly if you are a nursing home or home health care practitioner. Advances in computer technology are improving home health care by leaps and bounds, making your patients happier. And, hey, it doesn’t get much better than that!

The Benefits of Technology

If you are a home health care nurse, you know one of the greatest challenges you face is your patients’ depression. Whether elderly or young, in a home care facility or a private residence, patients cooped up all the time can be depressed. Wheeling the patient outdoors or into an activity room only does so much. You also know, most patients are in the home or under private care because the family members do not have the time or expertise to deal with their condition. This often depresses patients even more and leaves them feeling as if they are a burden.

The telephone allows your patients to keep in touch with their family and friends on a regular basis, but talking on the phone is kind of impersonal if you think about it - you can’t see the person you’re speaking to! If your patient is having a particularly bad day, a great cheer-up might be the smiling face of his or her grandchild. If it’s Tuesday, however, and the child can’t be brought to the home, you’ve just lost that “antidepressant.”

If you own a Smartphone, you know the convenience of that touch screen, and one of the latest forms of technology is touch screen computers. The units have ditched the keyboard and mouse, and users simply tap the PC’s screen to command it. This is ideal for elderly or disabled patients who have limited mobility or are bedridden. A laptop with a touch screen is light, portable, and easy for any patient to learn how to use. Units can also be affixed to wheeled stands for easy transport between rooms.

Add to that video chatting software, and you have a worldwide phenomenon that can be unbelievably useful in home patient care. People are video chatting online throughout the world to remain close because it’s free (in most cases) and you can see each other while you’re talking. Imagine that patient who is down on that Tuesday. Then imagine the patient video chatting with his or her grandchild; seeing that giggling, wonderful child’s face is sure to send them over the moon!

Video chatting also affords patients the opportunity to see family and friends who live too far to visit. This is particularly important to your patients who remain home and/or bedridden during the holidays. It is horribly depressing to a patient to be unable to send holiday wishes to all the people they care about. Having a computer set up with video chatting allows your patients to enjoy their holidays with everyone they love no matter where they live.

Video chatting isn’t the only advantage to bringing computer technology into home health care. Sick children remain stimulated and learn from numerous educational computer games and programs. These programs also work well with the elderly. Patients suffering from memory loss, dementia, or the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s benefit from computer programming designed to entertain and exercise the brain.

Pursuing continuing education on this subject gives you an advantage in your total patient care. Studies have assessed the emotional response in patients when using this type of technology in home care environments, and so far, the results present a resounding “thumbs-up” to using technology to improve home care. The patients are noticeably happier when they are able to not only talk to, but also see their family and friends on a regular basis, and the younger patients are particularly jazzed about computer gaming!

Learning how to implement this new form of technology into your patient care routine is critical to the overall health and happiness of your patients. The more you know about the various programs available, the more you can use them to improve the quality of your patients’ lives. Plus, it makes your job easier when you have happy patients, and as nurses, we just can’t ask for much more than that!

Please see the following links for more information on how technology is improving home health care: