The initial results of the programme show that although TV ownership is almost universal throughout the village and over half of its resident own computers, these are not generally viewed as routes for care service delivery compared to telephone landlines. Areas where technology-based services are viewed as more helpful are health monitoring and information, communication and personal security.
Led by the South East Health Technologies Alliance (SEHTA) in the UK, the TCARES project is an 18-month partnership involving the John Paul II hospital (Poland), the Fundacin Andaluza de Servicios Sociales (Spain), Zorgcentra Pantein (The Netherlands) and Timis County Council (Romania).
Each of the TCARES partners has engaged with a range of stakeholders from owners of care homes, to domiciliary care services and hospitals working together with individuals with full-time care and telecare businesses in the participating regions.
In the UK, SEHTA has conducted and now completed its own user-need questionnaire and technology-evaluation pilot at Whiteley Village, as well as developing basic training packages in telecare technology for carers.
With approximately one half of the adult and elderly population in Europe suffering with long-term health problems, healthcare resources in Europe will struggle to manage future health challenges presented by ageing populations and associated rises in long-term conditions.
Significant improvements in efficiency and effectiveness are required to meet future care needs. It is recognised that technology offers a potential solution to the increasing health burden, especially through the deployment of Telecare and Telehealth.
There are, however, still barriers to the widespread adoption of Telecare in the EU, including a lack of understanding of what service users and providers actually need and the business case for adoption.
TCARES has had several aims including a genuine attempt to understand the needs of Telecare users and service providers in real case scenarios, explains Dr David Parry, CEO of SEHTA. We need to be confident that as well as helping people to live as healthily as they can, the care systems in place are efficient and effective.
SEHTA has been working with Whiteley Care Village in Surrey to assess user need and to pilot technology with residents. The village has care environments of different intensities: cottages where individuals and couples live independently; self-contained extra care flats with their own domiciliary care team; a more traditional residential and nursing care centre.