Technology has become the part and parcel of human life today. In the first case study of Sally a woman with multiple sclerosis various factors are studied and discussed of the role of Technology in making her life easier and also the barriers in the smooth assistance by using the technology and assistance.
It won’t be an exaggeration if the present era is called to be in the midst of Technology Revolution. Health care being a primary need of mankind, is not untouched by this revolution. Technology has replaced human beings in many fields in the form of computers, machinery and even robots (Davies, 2013). In the social and health care department too, technology has made it easier and people have become independent all thanks to the machines and tools. The concept under explanation in this study is that how technology is helping the health care and social care easier and independent.
Independent living refers to the ability to live independently in the community and at the same time be a productive member of the community (Yang, 2013). It might not mean that the person is living a life on one’s own, but rather it’s concerned with having the control on his life. Independent living means having a freedom to choose where to live and having same freedom of making any choice like a non-disabled person (Independent Living May Reduce Recidivism, 2004). With reference to the Elder-care, the independent living is considered as a step in the continuum of the care. The next step here is the assisted living.
The people who need health and social care are generally people who have certain kind of physical disability and need assistance. Also the elderly people who are of the age where they need constant attention and assistance in their activities. As given in the first case of Sally, she is a person suffering from multiple sclerosis. Due to which her vision and motor controls have weakened and thus she needs some assistance in her activities. There the social and health care services help. Technology comes in the picture as a saviour for such patients (Kim, Younsu and Ryu, Hoyoung, 2012).
Heath care and social care services have two aspects, one the medical and physical help and other is the psychological help to the disabled and old. Assistive technology means any device or any system that helps an individual to perform a task that was not possible otherwise. It is helpful in increasing the ease and the safety of the activity (Davey, 1999). This technology ranges from the simple technology devices like calendar clocks to the high- tech devices like automatic lighting and telecare sensors.
The case study here of Sally, a 42 years old woman diagnosed with multiple sclerosis reveals and bases the fact the technology can help in making life easier for the patients of such diseases. A vision specialist recommends Sally to use an eye patch when warranted to help her in the vision problem. After that when she feels difficulty in office works and driving, due to weakness in the right side of body, a special keyboard is prescribed that covered a larger surface and has large black letters which are surrounded by a yellow background. Other technical assistant tools she is provided are dressing stick and toothbrush handles. For cooking some kitchen aids which included jar openers and recipe card holders. Some larger pots and pans; and also for gardening the adapted gardening tools are to be used by her to live her normal life with same routine. That means the real independence. For driving, a spinner knob and left foot accelerator are fitted in her car and she is given training to use them. Then gradually she even had issues with her memory so psychologist referred a personal digital assistant (PDA) that is called the "Pocket Coach". It functions with a single button push and assists in the memory functioning by telling what she has to do next.
In most of the countries in the world, the disabled are considered to be a burden on the family and society. They are considered to be an object of professional intervention and a burden for not just others but for themselves also. They are deprived of basic needs like education and jobs and that leads to force them to live a life of poverty. In that case it’s not easy for them to afford a technical assistance as these facilities are very expensive. The barriers can be of various types, as social, financial, the lack of internal resources and the resistance to technology (Copley and Ziviani, 2004).
The new technology is very expensive for most of the disabled people who actually need it. They are not earning so it becomes a burden rather than help.
Society is very resistant to change. Change of any kind is not easy to mingle in the social setup and technology is a little complicated one as it needs a lot of training too.
Sally must have felt the same constraints as she was to be trained in using all the new technical gadgets and helps designed for her; especially, at the age of 42, when she had a certain way of life and habits of using things in a certain manner. To change all that with the psychological impact of the ailment is not easy for anyone.
The technology has its benefits that nobody can ignore. For the independent and comfortable life the technology is a boon to the disabled people. It assists them in daily routine and thus makes the family or society also a sense of relief. It makes the individual independent and confident that even being disabled, one is not a burden on the society or family. As in the case of Sally now she can drive herself and even work in an office so can be financially independent. Also daily routine work she can manage without bothering the family.
If the buildings, transport systems and all other general needs and facilities are disabled friendly then the society doesn’t need to feel that disabled are a burden.
General belief in the society is that the technology will improve the health care efficiency, its quality, user’s safety and also the cost paid by the society. But is has its constraints and concerns like the same technology may also introduce some adverse errors. The safety considerations are very important. The first thing to be kept in mind is that new technology needs training. The nurses or other specialists must have proper training (Higginson, Jefferys and Hodgson, 1997). The person who is going to use it, the patient, needs to be trained with patience and perfection so that he may use it to benefit. It may not have any adverse effect on health of the user as well as the people around, as some radio active device or something alike should be used carefully. The technology is usually a complex phenomenon so it must be made user friendly.
The family especially has to be the first bearer after the patient himself. Then they have to adapt their outlook and life styles according to the needs of the patient. The needs can be social, psychological, biological, physical or even financial. The technology can assist the patient but it may not be as efficient as the real body and mind of the person. Also the psychological brunt sometimes makes it difficult, so the family and social care have to keep the patient’s moral high.
It is very important to think carefully and rationally about all the pros and cons of the technical assistance for the patient and care givers. Many technical devises may have a threat to the privacy of the user. In that case the user has to be very careful and alert while using it. So comfort is affected. The technology may have a very alarming threat that it may cut off the person from the real world. The real human contact needed may not be available when they start using the technical support. The technical support lacks the personal, psychological and emotional touch to it. The patient then may fall prey to the loneliness and that is not at all advisable. So the ethical consideration needs to be given here to this problem. Other factors are also there. The device may be complicated and the user may not get used to it. Like the age factor may intervene or even the technical knowledge of the person. As in the case of Sally, she is 42. That age is considered to be a little difficult, to learn a new technology easily. It may also foster a one sided focus on the patient’s problem. The help may prove sometimes threat to the amount of strength or ability that is still there in the patient. The technology may make him totally dependent on itself and that is also a hindrance in the recovery and the self confidence of the patient may get adversely affected.
The latest technology in the field of health care and social care are very advanced and complex. Its impact on society is generally positive, but the negative aspects cannot be denied as well. The technology has to be not just user friendly, but also the environment and surrounding should not get any adverse effect or disturbance due to the use of technology by the disabled. The patient needs all kinds of support that can be aided with the help of the technology. The recent emerging technology has made the work of organisations and individuals very easy to a great extent. Now the patient’s daily routine works can be handled by technology and a personal 24*7 assistance may not be mandatory, thanks to the technology. The outdoor activities can be empowered by the help of assisting technology and that can give independence to the individual and freedom to the carrier. As in the case of Sally, she could drive and even pursue her job. With the technical support she could continue her hobbies or household works like cooking and gardening, without being a burden on the family or society.
The report here is about a patient Maggie, who is diagnosed suffering from Dementia. Dementia is a state where the mental health suffers. It is not a specific disease as such. It deals with various mental health ailments like the memory loss and weakness any other thinking powers; a sense of time also may get affected. Various mental implications are there attached to this problem. It may get so severe that can reduce the person’s abilities to perform the day to day activities normally. It may create problem in the keeping track of a simple thing like a wallet, a short term memory loss can be observed in the patient. The person may feel difficulty in planning and preparing meals and keeping track and plan of travelling and appointments.
Maggie is a lady aged 62, who lives a very active life. She has an early onset dementia. Dementia is generally related to Alzheimer. The memory loss and loss of a sense of timing and planning being the main feature it is considered as a serious problem faced by the elderly people generally (Ferrer, 2012). Maggie is suffering from a condition here she has lost the sense of time. The family and friends are concerned about her safety as she leaves the house at any time, especially at night. Living alone, this condition may be very dangerous for Maggie. So the most specific need of Maggie is she must have someone to accompany her at house as her husband has recently passed away. She has the home care assistance too appointed to her, but home care generally comes early in the morning when Maggie is nit found at home. This makes her treatment suffer lot by missing the medication and care needed. So she needs some system to keep track of her medication and food. But most importantly some system to keep her alarmed about the timings and her sense of time and place. The alarming effects of dementia are many including the memory and thinking problems. These two specifically lead to a sense of loss at the part of patient in various forms. This may lead to loss of self esteem as the normal daily works need assistance now. It can lower the self confidence. Adversely affect the independence and autonomy that is a very difficult situation for an elderly person. The special roles and responsibilities start suffering as happened with Maggie in the case study, she cannot manage her house properly and her relations might suffer because of that. The ability to carry out the favourite hobbies or pass times also deteriorates. Even the basic daily activities like cooking; eating and driving get affected adversely and make the physical health aslo suffer. But all this doesn’t mean that the person has lost his emotional and psychological abilities. He still has the emotional connection with the family, friends and society. Also the connection with the environment has altered but not diminished. So, proper care and technical assistance may help the patient in leading a rather normal life.
Maggie needs help in mental activities and that can be supported by assistive devices designed for Dementia patients specially. The computerised care givers are the first type of technical assistance needed for the Dementia patients. MemeXerciser is an example of an emerging tool that is an intelligence device meant to provide cognitive support to the patient. Memory loss being the foremost problem, the most devastating one for the elderly persons, this device focuses on early assistance in this problem. Some more helpful devices can be robots that mimic human or animals and they can help the patient in moving around, bathing, and even provide the artificial social assistance. Even in some countries it has been introduced in the medical help by the governments themselves. Then the social media, computers and some little things like talking diaries, alarms, Memory Prompts and home security systems can help in the initial stages. Maggie may use them and live a rather comfortable and safer life. Also some other devices can be used by her like Medication aids so that she doesn’t miss her medication. Locator devices are one more useful thing as it can be attached to the things which patient needs more often but forgets where placed. Also the patient can keep it in pocket so that if like Maggie does, goes out somewhere at odd hours, can be found by the family easily.
The technology has made human life easier and much smoother. It helps in all the walks of life and in the health care it can prove to be a real boon. As far as the efficiency, compliance and quality of care is concerned, technical assistance can give numerous benefits to the care provider. The technical advancement and involvement may simplify the works of the care givers. The second very important benefit is that it can make the communication easy and fast between staff, patients and their families. The simpler the work gets, more rewarding it becomes. On the part of staff and patient both the technical assistance makes the work much more fruitful.
The fact is that the disabled person oneself is the best judge of one’s needs and abilities. They must take themselves the initiative either individually or collectively in designing better solutions of their problems. Independent living must not be taken as living a life of isolation or living only on their own, but a life that has a control of the person himself and not anyone else. The surroundings must be made disabled friendly so that a disabled person can enjoy a normal life by commuting comfortably and going to places where non-disabled persons go and do the similar activities. The schools, offices and parks etc. have to be designed in a way that disabled person can use it independently without hassle. Then one more important fact is that no one must be forced to use any technology if it is not right or comfortable for them. too much dependence on the technical support may make the patient suffer more emotionally and that is a serious threat.
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