The Renfrewshire Partnership project provided 325 people with dementia living in the community with telecare equipment over the period 2007/08 to 2011/12.
The evaluation demonstrates telecare can be used to support a significant proportion of people living with dementia in the community; they, and their carers, are generally satisfied or highly satisfied with the service. Staff and the Police see major advantages; NHS staff seem increasingly accepting of it. It has also shown the key resource saving is likely to be care home admissions avoided.
The report goes on to identify key service enhancements:
a) Embedding telecare as part of all care assessments;
b) Embedding telecare as part of discharge planning;
c) Identifying patients with dementia at an earlier stage to use telecare.
Achieving these will require greater emphasis on education and training for new and existing health and social care staff to ensure they are aware of telecare’s potential benefits and of developments in the technology. Close working between NHS and social staff at the programme’s beginning was a major benefit of the Telecare Development Programme but fragmentation is now seen as an issue so achieving these enhancements may not be easy.
Telecare offers opportunities to enable people with dementia to remain at home longer, if this is their preference, whilst supporting the person and their main carer. Given over 60% of people with dementia live in the community this is an important goal.
The report also recognises the importance of networking and shared learning: as each Local Authority area has adopted slightly difference approaches to the provision of telecare, it is important that senior service managers have opportunities to network and to share their experiences. This should make the service more efficient and ensure that managers are aware of all recent developments and innovative solutions to particular issues.