There are many skills that you can bring to a role in health care. While communication and compassion are high on the list of priorities, another factor that can make a significant difference is digital skills. From apps and programs to devices, technology plays a role in several aspects of care.
In this article, we explore how digital skills and technology can enhance health and social care. Plus, we look at digital champions and the role they play in care settings. Read on to find out more about how your skills can improve the quality of care and your career.
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Your digital skills are transferable to several aspects of a role in health and social care. Technology can help with organisation, whether that’s checking a resident’s notes or planning appointments. They could help to make administrative processes faster and more streamlined.
Your digital skills can help you and your team communicate, whether it's via email or creating a shared calendar. When you interact with the people you support, your digital skills mean you can take advantage of technology to gain insights into the people you’re caring for and track progress easily.
Your ability to use technology can be beneficial in a more direct way. For example, when using a tablet with someone you’re supporting. You can show them how to use it for displaying photos, contacting loved ones, getting ideas for a hobby, reading books and magazines or playing games. These activities improve their well-being and can help them maintain some independence.
A digital champion is the ‘go-to’ person in their team to help people with using the technology that’s part of the role. For example, in social care, a digital champion could work with other members of the team to show the benefits of using devices with the people they support.
A digital champion is familiar with existing technologies and how to use them. They often stay up-to-date on emerging technologies, too. It allows them to encourage their team or workplace to become early adopters.
As others learn and gain experience, the overall digital abilities of the team will increase. This growth allows everyone to benefit from the new skills and share them with others. As well as empowering others and giving them confidence to use technology, this role might involve spotting digital solutions to problems in care settings.
Managers can play a role in supporting digital champions to communicate with the team to understand the challenges they face. They’ll then be in a good position to identify where new technology or digital systems can be introduced to improve the working environment and the well-being of residents.
When you work in care, there’s a particular resource that’s invaluable: time. Technology can indirectly help the people you support by making administrative tasks faster. When forms are easier to fill out, time is saved. Plus, when data can be saved and stored quickly and communications are instant, you can be more efficient. It means you’ll have more time to spend face-to-face with the people who need it.
Technology can mean efficiency, which can be life-saving in care settings. Better integration with NHS systems and improved, safe data collection means problems are spotted and responded to more promptly and with the right information.
The people that you support can also benefit from having access to technology and improving their digital skills. It helps them maintain independence. It could be through booking their own GP appointments online, being able to video call loved ones, listening to their favourite songs or keeping notes and photos. Plus, assistive technology provides excellent workarounds for sensory challenges, too.
Wearable technology can collect important data that health professionals can use. Wearables can also offer prompts and reminders to keep someone in a routine. It could be a reminder to move or a status update on hydration or blood sugar levels. Care and support workers can work with people to understand how to set up and use these devices.
Technology continues to advance. It means there are new ways to take advantage of it when it comes to improving care. There are several ways that technology is revolutionising healthcare. Anyone wanting to grow and develop their digital skills will benefit from knowing more about these advancements.
Wearables are already with us, but their uses continue to be explored in order to change technology in health care. Existing and potential uses include blood sugar levels, monitoring heart rate, detecting a fall and tracking hydration.
Closely linked to wearables, but telemedicine extends beyond monitoring devices. Telemedicine is making healthcare more accessible. Telemedicine allows people to communicate with medical practitioners remotely. Face-to-face appointments still take place when necessary, but some issues can be checked more efficiently and safely with telemedicine.
Smart devices, apps and voice-activated technology help people who need support stay independent. It might be much easier for them to control lights and other devices. Plus, a carer or loved one can also access the app and have alerts when there are issues with the temperature or other aspects of the home environment. It also covers a safety aspect with monitoring devices.
It’s still early days for robots and AI in care, but the potential is substantial. In the near future, we could see chatbots in the care setting. They could offer companionship as well as symptom monitoring. As for robots, there are several areas where they could improve care. A robot could assist with strenuous manual tasks when supporting someone, including lifting them.