I've spent the last 2 days (13th/14th October 2021) at The Care Show hosted at the NEC, Birmingham. It's been an incredibly informative and insightful couple of days and I've had the privilege to speak with some very passionate care home owners and was able to get my geek on with companies like Nourish Care and Access, key providers in the world of care management software. The work the two companies do seems to fit into our SPARK® Media Patient Dashboard like a silky, smooth glove; showing care home residents information about their health, care pathways, medication routines as well as providing health education.
The conversations regarding guest WiFi have reminded me of 15-17 years ago when you had to check to see if a hotel offered WiFi, and often when you picked one that did, you’d be left struggling to find a connection.
Similarly, in the care home sector, a staggering number of homes still fail to provide an enjoyable WiFi experience for residents. With unsuitable BT Home Hubs supporting a miss-mash of residential type repeaters, the infrastructure falls at the first hurdle, and that’s if there’s a WiFi connection in place at all.
When speaking to one care home owner, he admitted that he was aware of installs such as this, and agrees it is insubstantial to provide the service his residents demand. One of which is a 102-year-old gentleman who regularly complains that he is unable to get online to read the news or access Netflix. The preconception that seniors shy away from tech is outdated, I love to hear that he needs to watch Netflix, he’s probably hooked on Squid Game like the rest of us.
It all reminds me of hosting a User Experience testing day at Bedford Hospital with the Patient Association Group in the early days of creating SPARK® Media. Speaking with 80-90-year-old patients to understand how they interact with technology and user interfaces aided us in growing our solution for the specific needs of the end-user. I love this throwback photo, this patient had never experienced VR before and absolutely loved the experience, it's only that by giving seniors access to recreational tech that they’re able to develop a connection and a love for it. That’s why attending The Care Show and developing our solution in line with evidential knowledge enables us to give care homes state-of-the-art technology that works for them.
At the Care Show, I had the honour of giving a talk about our services to a well-attended audience. Upon mentioning the fact the next generation of care home residents are already arriving with smartphones, iPads (other tablets available), and maybe even Alexas and other smart speakers. I was greeted with a sea of knowing smiles and nodding agreeing heads. After the talk, more than one care home owner commented that WiFi is becoming a basic human right – something that at WiFi SPARK we couldn’t agree more with.
The COVID Effect
With it being 2021, another major topic has been COVID-19 and the detrimental effect severe isolation has caused many residents in care homes and even more so in nursing homes. However, similarly to how COVID was a principal innovation driver for many businesses, COVID drove innovation in all our personal lives too, defining and changing forever how we interact with one and another. But for seniors, access to the internet and digital services became a vital service to stay in touch with loved ones, get their grocery shopping and, as statistics on internet usage have shown, access to internet banking. I find the graph below fascinating showing seniors' usage of smartphones in 2016 and 2020. Dramatic digital adoption has taken place over the last four years and it’s time residential care facilities meet the needs of their residents.
I'm extremely proud of the work the team at WiFi SPARK has done improving the patient experience across the NHS. I believe we've genuinely made the world a little better and a little nicer with SPARK® Services being accessed by over 200,000 people a day.
With our Sales and technical teams now running full steam ahead with SPARK® Connect and SPARK® Media across the NHS, I personally need a new challenge. So I'm very excited to turn my attention to the care home market and see how we improve the quality of care and the experience of care home residents.
If you've made it this far, thank you very much for taking the time to read this and I hope you've enjoyed my ramblings. I'm a very collaborative person and welcome technology partnerships that can improve our user experience and the breadth of benefits to the end-user. So if you'd like to join me on this journey to promote well-being and reduce isolation in care and nursing homes please do get in touch.