Our only chance of weathering the demographic tsunami of our elderly population is for family, friends and neighbours to help them to remain independent.
In east Suffolk, we are part of a scheme to provide ‘easy Skype’ to elderly isolated patients via their TV sets, using technology to complement personal contact. Many look forward to a quick audiovisual chat about their welfare after Coronation Street, but patients also use the system to talk to their families – the relative only needs a smartphone. We are also training 72-hour live-in carers at every practice to prevent urgent social and soft medical admissions. This month we will start using these practice-based carers to get patients home from hospital sooner to head off the dependency slide.
The public needs to play an increasing role and many more simple ideas like these need to go to market.
Dr John Havard, Saxmundham, Suffolk