There are a lot of difficulties faced by People with disabilities which prevent them from enjoying freedom, autonomous and control over their life. Living a life where one’s freedom is restricted and other people control the life on behalf of other is undesirable for any human being. It is for this reason that there have been calls through legislation, policies and public debates to support people with disabilities to live independently. Independent living in this case means the right for practical assistance to engage and participate in social and economical activities (Pam 2015). This essay provides a practical guide on how technology can be used to support disabled people live independent lives. The essay make references to two case scenario one of a young lady called sally who is losing her mobility and other one of older lady called Maggie who have been diagnosed with dementia
1.1explain how technology can be used to support users of health and social care services in living independently
Independent living does not simply mean the ability of a disabled person living by themselves. It a comprehensive term that mean empowering individual with disability to enjoy freedom, choice, dignity and control over their life at home, community and in the work place just like average human being (Pam 2015). There is various ways in which disabled people can be empowered to live independently. One of such way is through the use of assistive technologies. These are devices and systems that enable individuals to perform task and activities that otherwise would not have performed due to limitation in their body function (Cook and Polgar 2007). Assistive technologies promote independent living by compensating the loss of body function such a hearing, vision, walking, standing among others.
There are so many assistive technologies that are available to make independent living reality to the disabled people. However, for an assistive technology device or system to be effective in offering support, it has to be matched with the servicer user needs (MTP 2015). In case of sally, a wheelchair either manual or automatic, a walking stick or a scooter can be recommended to her to compensate for the loss of mobility. People with mobility issues find it difficult to perform wide range of activities especially those that requires upright posture or walking hindering them from have full control over their life. The uses of the assistive technologies recommended above would help break the barriers that may hinder sally from enjoy her freedom and having total control over her life at work, and in the community.
There are several barriers to the use of assistive technologies for independent living. To start with, people avoid assistive technologies if they result to social embarrassment. According to a study by Sachdeva and Suomi (2013) on why blind people avoid or abandon assistive technology, majority of disabled people (blind) avoid assistive technology to avoid judgment from other.
Assistive technologies continue to advance and improve in function and features. This has led to availability of so many options. As a result people with disability get confused when it comes to selecting the appropriate technologies. This confusion led to people abandoning the whole idea of using the assistive technologies. Also case of mismatch between person and technologies result to ineffectiveness of the assistive technology in promoting independent living which led to their abandonment (MTP 2015).
When people decide to use assistive technologies, they usually have high expectation in the technology. When the assistive technology failure to meet those need due to issues such as breakdown, mismatch and complexity of use, it result to frustration which led to servicer user looking for alternative source of support ( Sachdeva and Suomi 2013).
The financial resource required acquiring and maintaining (in some case) the assistive technology hinder majority of servicer user from using technology for independent living (Jette and field 2007).
Any or all of these factors may hinder sally from using assistive technologies for independent living. It is therefore important to assess the likely factors and address them before hand. Financial barrier can be addressed by helping accesses all the possible funding option including personal health care budget. An assistive specialist should also help find the suitable assistive technology for her. Sally should also be properly matched with the assistive technologies. These would reduce disappointment and frustration (MPT 2015).When recommending the assistive technology for sally, her preference and choice need to be observed. This would help her use one that she will feel comfortable in even before others
1.3 explain the benefits of these technologies to health and social care organizations and their users
Benefits of assistive technologies to care provider
The uses of technologies in health and social care setting to support independent have proved to benefit care providers. Evidence shows that health and social care organization that embrace the uses of assistive devices and technologies recorded improvement in care services. For instance, technological devices and systems such as sensors, alerts, CCTV and telecare have improved monitoring of patients and their conditions (Ripat 2006)). Take an organization with telecare system for example, a hypertension servicer user can measure her blood pressure rate and send it through telecare system for interpretation of results and further guidance. Equally, a sensor and alerts have made it possible to detect fall, a wandering person leaving the house at nights and other situation which help in taking immediate intervention before it too late.
Evidence also indicates that assistive technologies if properly used can result to efficiency in operation. For instance, assistive systems and devices that enable remote exchange of data and information between healthcare professional and service users eliminate the need for servicer user physically attending the healthcare facilities.This result to saving of time and cost used to attend to physically presence servicer user (Francis and Holmes 2010).
Benefits of assistive technology to servicer user
Assistive technologies are helping people with disabilities overcome barrier to independence and inclusion. It is helping people compensate for functional limitation which prevents them from being independent and participate in social and economical activities in the society (Scherer (1996). According to Cook and Polgar (2007), Assistive technologies give people with disabilities and opportunities to have control over their life. This results to improvement in their confidence and self-esteem.
2.1 explain the health and safety consideration in the use of technologies in health and social care.
When deciding to use assistive technologies in health and social care. There are several health and safety consideration that need to be evaluated. To begin with, under the health and safety act 1974, health and social care providers are required to protect any person affected by their activities from potential health, safety and welfare related risks that might arises in the process of offering their services. When making decision on assistive technologies to recommend to Sally and other patients, it is important to consider the potential risks such devices may pose to her health, safety and welfare. Issue such as reliability of the devices and the possible consequence in case of the breakdown must be evaluated. Furthermore, issues such as side effects of using technologies need to be considered and the impact that have on health, safety and welfare well evaluated. For instance, excessive use of wheel chair in case of sally may lead to sedentary behavior which increases risks of premature death or chronic disease such as cancer, hypertension, and stroke among other. Such issues need to be considered and appropriate.
2.2 Discuss Ethical consideration in the use of assistive technologies
When making decision on the use of assistive technology, it is important to consider several ethical issues. The ethical issues that need to be considered include the impacts the technology will have on patient privacy, autonomous and freedom; the impacts technology will have on service user health and safety, impact on confidentiality of patient information and potential misuse of the technologies.
Various legislations, code of practice and policies emphasis the need for maintaining servicer user privacy. It is therefore crucial to consider the impact of assistive technologies on servicer user privacy. Some assistive technologies especially those used for monitoring safety can led to breach of servicer user privacy which is violation of both law and professional obligation (Cook 2009). When making decision on assistive technologies to uses, the impacts it has on servicer user privacy need to be carefully considered.
Several laws and national policies also exist to protect the freedom of health and social care servicer users. Moreover, care providers are under professional duties to promote servicer user autonomous. However, some assistive technologies can have negative effect on servicer user freedom and autonomous both when used appropriately and when misused (Cook 2009, Francis and Holmes 2010). There is therefore the need to consider the potential negative impacts an assistive device or system have on servicer users freedom and autonomous.
One of ethical principle that guide health and social care practice is that of Non-maleficence. It basically means that care services need not to cause harm to servicer user (At dementia 2015). There is therefore the need to consider the potential risks or the negative impacts the recommended assistive device of system may have on servicer user health and safety.
Some of the assistive devices and systems used to support independent living may involve sharing of information between servicer user and healthcare professionals (Francis and Holmes 2010). When considering using such systems and devices it is important to consider their impacts on patient confidentiality. Issues to consider here include misuse of the information and expose of confidential information to wrong hand.
2.3 explain the impact of recent and emerging technological developments on health and social care services, organizations and care workers
As the assistive technologies continue to advance in functionalities and feature, they are having profound impact on servicer users, healthcare services and other organization.
To services users, recent development in assistive technologies is having mixed results. To begin with, it has empowered people with disabilities to live independently. By compensating their functional limitation, assistive technologies is enabling disabled people to be included in the mainstream society both socially and economically (Anderson, Rothbaum & Hodges 2001). However, assistive technologies are slowly replacing the human contact between disabled people and their carer (Scherer 1996). Additionally, there are several ethical issues that have been raised in the use of assistive technology especially relating to servicer user privacy, freedom and confidentiality. If not properly used, Assistive technologies can result loss of privacy, confidentiality and limitation in servicer user freedom (Francis and Holmes 2010).
Assistive technologies are also changing the way health and social care services are delivered. Some of the recent development in technologies is enabling remote exchange of physiological data for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of patients (James 2012). Additionally, assistive technology is resulting to operational efficiency in health and social care setting. This is due to the facts that assistive technologies had eliminated the needs for disabled people to be residents in healthcare facilities. They can be simply supported in their homes (Cook & Polgar 2007). To other organization including schools, and workplace, assistive technologies has enabled inclusion of disabled people. It has enabled disabled individual to have equal opportunity in school, workplace among other organization. However, it also increases cost and administrative burden to the organizations. Organizations are required to modify their infrastructure or put up infrastructure that accommodate the assistive technologies used by servicer user (Cook & Polgar 2007). For instance, if sally chose to use a wheel chair, her employer will be required to modify their infrastructure to accommodate the wheelchair. The stairs and the corridors need to be designed in manner that allow for free movement of the wheel chair or scooter.
An individual is said to have special needs when they have functional limitation that act as barrier to their participating in personal, social and economical activities (Hurstfield et al 2007). In the given case scenario, Maggie who have been recently diagnosed with dementia will experience various functional limitation associated with the condition. These functional limitations include memory loss and cognitive impairment (DH 2009). As a result Maggie capabilities to remember thing and make sound decision will weaken. This will definitely affect her ability to live independently. She will therefore be in need of care support. When people with dementia feel uncomfortable with their environment, they respond by changing their behaviour. They may show behaviour such as wandering, relentless, agitation hair pulling among other. These behaviours may cause harm to oneself or other and there is therefore the needs to prevent or manage such behaviours (DH 2009). The wandering behaviour that Maggie is suspected of having will need to be investigated and managed appropriately to avoid negative impacts on her health and safety.
Despite the functionality limitation associated with dementia, Maggie can be support through technologies to live independently. There are many options of assistive technologies that can be used to compensate her functional limitation. To start with, memory loss can be remedied by using assistive devices such as programmable Smartphone, automatic time reminder, medication aids among others. Reminder devices can be used to help her remember various activities she needs to do. Visible clock such as those that state the time, the day and specify what time of the day it is can be used to help avoid her wandering at night. Medication aids can be used to help her take the right medication without over or under dosing (Astell 2006).
Dementia is a condition that increases safety risks of the patient. Due to memory loss patients may forget to turn off gas after cooking, tap when bathing and other related issue. This may be catastrophic if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are various technologies that can be used to ensure safety of the servicer user. These include water isolation devices to turn off tap when water overflow in the tab, special plug to switch off gases cooker when left on, sensors to alert the carer when someone leave the house at night, detector to note and alert care when patient fall, automatic light that switch on when someone enter a room and many other.
Assistive technology recommended above to Maggie can prove to be very useful in promoting her independent living. They would enable her perform task required for independent living by compensating functional limitations. For instance, reminder device and medication aid devices would enable her take medication as required. They would also offer guarantee to her safety by avoiding all possible cause of risks such as fire, overflowing water in bath tap among other (Astell, 2006). Generally speaking, assistive technologies help eliminate the difficulties that disabled people faces in our society enabling them to live more independently. However, dementia is a progressive disease which mean it deteriorate with time (DH 2009). As time goes by, Maggie memory and cognitive ability will continue to weaken. This will affect her ability to user assistive technology. When the condition worsen, only passive technologies will remain useful. Passive technologies are those devices and system that does not require the input of the patient for them to work (Astell 2006). On the other, all the technological devices and system that require her input .e.g. pressing a button, will become less useful as her condition deteriorate.
When making decision on the use of assistive technologies to support people with dementia, it is important to consider their useful in the various stage of the diseases. Those device and system that become less useful as condition deteriorate should not be relied and should be replaced with direct human care. However, that passive technology can be used alongside direct human support to improve the care of servicer user.
This essay has discussed how technologies can be used to promote independent living among people with disabilities. The discussion raises several important points’ worth to note. One, assistive technologies are very effective and useful in compensating for functional limitation that arise from disabilities. It has impacted positively to servicer users as well as to care worker and the organization. Secondly, assistive technologies have their down side. They can result to breach of ethical principle as used in health and social care practice. Additionally, they can increase health and safety risks of servicer users. However their benefits outweigh their limitation and such they be used to support independent living. To deal with their down sides which mainly affect ethics of health and social care practice, health and safety of servicer user, it is important to consider ethical, health and safety issue that might arise in the use of the technologies. Thirdly, assistive technologies are not always useful and effective. There are some instance their usefulness is limited. As such they should not be used to replace direct human care. It should only be used alongside direct human care.