Convenience drives the majority of our purchasing decisions. We want things on-demand and we want to be able to simplify our lives in every way possible. As consumers, we're not just looking for shortcuts; we want shortcuts that deliver sustainable, efficient solutions.
But there are some things we shouldn't be developing apps for and some processes we shouldn't be automating. When it comes to our family welfare and taking care of our loved ones, we want the best care providers possible. You wouldn't, for example, use an app to call just any random caregiver to look after your parents while you were away.
The uncomfortable truth is we all will grow old. Put yourself in your grandparent's shoes for a minute; would you want to be placed in a senior home far away from your family and friends just because you needed a little extra help around the house? Probably not. We have websites and digital services that let us find the best nannies for our children and the most efficient cleaning services for our homes, so why don't we have the same for our grandparents?
There are several things to keep in mind when you search for an ideal caregiver. You want to thoroughly vet your caregiver and service provider first and foremost. This will require some face-to-face interaction and possibly even a phone call if you're really serious about their professional experience. There's a human texture missing from digital conversations that can speak volumes about a person's ability to care for your loved ones.
And while we might be able to customize some things like our dinner order via app, it's much more difficult to personalize services when it comes to an individual's health. The home care industry remains full of untapped potential for technology startups but there are barriers to entry that prevent a fully functioning tech-enabled home market. A caregiver is more than a nurse or someone who checks up on a patient in a hospital every few hours. This is an individual who will be helping your family member perform basic tasks around the house and offers companionship throughout the day.
To start, customizing individual health care requires a personal touch that can't be delivered over the computer. "I would encourage families to begin thinking about home care services earlier, speak with office staff, interview caregivers and seek references from families who worked with the agency and caregiver in the past," says Anna Holden, owner of Comfort Keepers Home Care Agency. " An established home care office will seek to find a caregiver with not only skills but also personality match as well as provide additional ongoing care management and support, proactively seeking best solutions. It may be an adjustment in schedule, meal plans, activities, additional communications or use of new tech gadgets that would help families stay connected to their loved ones." A service like home care should feel personal. Home care recipients want a caregiver they feel they can get along with and don't mind spending the majority of their days with, so it's important to thoroughly interview all options. Sure, emailing a caregiver might give you an idea of their personality, but there are plenty of personality traits and quirks that are left out over text.
But don't be so quick to write off technology. In an industry that tends to be disorganized and somewhat impersonal, technology can support caregivers and empower them to do the best job possible.
Instead of replacing the human aspect of home care with technology, technology should complement caregivers and simplify the work that they do. Many senior adults move to assisted living facilities because of a diminished physical ability or fear of living on their own. A technically enabled home, coupled with a regular caregiver, can delay the shift of patients to such expensive living facilities. Think wi-fi connected home monitors or easy-to-carry apps that can help a caregiver check the status of his or her charge. Technology can bring advanced health care directly to an individual's home, thus creating a much more reliable, enjoyable experience for older individuals.
For most seniors, living at home for as long as they can is an empowering privilege. Being stuck in an assisted living facility can also lead to boredom and be lonely for elderly individuals who find themselves surrounded by strangers. And it's an emotional stressor for many adults who simply don't have the time or energy to take care of their parents, but feel guilty for leaving them in a foreign environment. The future of the home care services industry lies in the harmonization of human labor and technology. It's about bridging the gap between the two to provide transparent health care services and peace of mind to families with aging loved ones.