From social isolation to self isolation
05 March 2020 | 0 Comment
In 2019, the world had started to realise the growing health crisis that was being caused by loneliness amongst older adults, in particular.
However, by March 2020 the coronavirus pandemic shifted the world’s focus to encouraging older adults to self-isolate, for their own safety, due to the UK government’s herd immunity strategy, that requires the majority of the population to become gradually infected while the vulnerable (e.g. older adults) remain isolated at home for up to four months or more. This means not only isolation from potentially infected family members but also increased screening and social distancing from care workers and health professionals who may come into contact with them.
The question now is how we balance the need to reduce exposure to the virus, monitoring health and wellbeing, whilst also keeping older adults active and engaged.
We have been researching resilience and crisis management for a number of years and believe that technology will have a critical part to play in bridging the new divide. For example, Kraydel’s Konnect system enables older adults to access TV video calling with loved ones through their own televisions from the comfort of their sofa. Konnect is also a connected home system, with various IoT devices integrated for wellbeing monitoring. So, while loved ones can make facetime calls and stop the User from being socially disconnected, health professionals, such as GPs, nutritionists, physiotherapists and care workers can use the IoT devices to monitor the User and contact the User through the TV as needed. By using data from connected devices that measure body temperature and changes in the home environment, the system can also act as an early warning system alerting the User’s network to changes in their behaviour, or signs of sickness.
There is an immediate short-term need to ensure the elderly get appropriate care and support – this will involve a nationwide effort to support them with tasks from shopping to daily tasks. We will also need to work together to combat anxiety and depression – sitting at home watching stories on the news needs to be replaced with meaningful cognitive activities such as group chats, brain training games and e-Learning courses for the elderly.
But there will also be a medium to long term health impact of the loss of routine. For many older adults, their daily walk to the shops can be their most significant physical exercise – it is difficult to replace these without significant behavioural changes. But through the TV we could begin to deliver tailored fitness classes with trained physiotherapists.
These behavioural changes need to focus on building resilience and independence – and that’s why Kraydel will be accelerating our trial partnerships with a view to release v.1 of our product to the general public in the coming months.