Close Communities or Remote Monitoring?
I have just come back from visiting my Mother, who lives in the north of England. On the outbound train I found myself sitting next to a recently-qualified GP, and we talked about primary care. I explained to Helen (let’s call her that) I thought using IT for remote monitoring would be the key to healthcare in Britain’s aging population. She thought that closer communities and families were needed.
Helen is Greek and is accustomed to extended families. She is struck by the lack of them and close communities in the UK. Issues daughters and sons might consult their fathers, mothers and grandparents about are now often taken to their GP. In addition, the aged are left to live alone, some unvisited for weeks. Consequently, she supported community nursing and nurse practitioners and perhaps the recreation of local community hospitals.
All of this took the wind out of my sails. We will be able to manage remotely long-term conditions with a combination of ICT and better sensors, and telecare may be a practical way to make efficient use of increasingly scarce qualified staff. But what of the human touch? Would I like my Mother to be alone with only technology to keep her company?