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How Technology Innovations Are Shaping Direct Care

By Robert Espinoza | October 16, 2018

As technology innovations gain traction in the long-term care industry, we are clear about one stance in particular: automation and robots cannot replace the value of personal connection and hands-on support in direct care, and it should not displace direct care workers from their jobs.

Nevertheless, technology continues to show promise in the direct care sector–from handheld devices to social media, and much more.

Here are seven examples of technology strengthening the direct care workforce.

1 | HANDHELD DEVICES

Maximizing Communication

In home care, handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets can improve communication among the worker, client, and full care team. A worker can use technology to report and manage changes in a client’s health condition, among other uses.

From the Field: PHI’s approach to “upskilling” home care workers draws on handheld devices to report and manage client issues, such as health conditions, risk factors, stressors in the home, social connections, and more.

2 | SOCIAL MEDIA

Boosting Recruitment

Long-term care advocates have used social media to engage the public, and now employers are turning to these platforms to improve recruitment. Social media can easily reach larger, more targeted audiences, and it can simplify the candidate outreach process.

From the Field: A Minnesota-based digital media firm worked with a local provider to boost its recruitment figures–using paid ads to target key markets and driving them to apply online through their mobile devices.

3 | ONLINE SCHEDULING

Improving Work Hours

Many home care workers work part time because of health conditions, because they’re caring for relatives, or because they can’t find full-time work. An online jobs platform can address these concerns, allowing workers to create the schedules they want. (Matching service registries, which are described below, also make use of online job platforms but are more focused on “matching” consumers and workers.)

From the Field: A Washington, DC-based company created an online jobs platform where employers can post jobs and search for workers based on location, skills, and experience–and workers can find jobs that meet their needs.

4 | PUBLIC EDUCATION

Engaging Online Audiences

Through a range of technology tools and digital media platforms, long-term care employers are improving communication with their clients and workers. Advocates are also relying on new technologies to build public support for pressing issues.

From the Field: PHI worked with providers in Minnesota and Wisconsin to launch month-long social media campaigns in each state that built public awareness of the challenges facing both home care workers and clients.

5 | TELEHEALTH SUPPORTS

Supporting Independence

Many people with disabilities rely on technology supports to live independently in their homes. These technologies include sensors that monitor the health and safety of individuals, remote monitoring technology, smart homes, voice assistants, and more.

From the Field: In 2017, the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities issued a policy report on direct support professionals, citing technology supports as one of 10 core recommendations.

6 | MATCHING SERVICES

Connecting Workers & Clients

Matching service registries gather information about the needs and preferences of consumers, and the availability, skills, and preferences of workers–creating a centralized, region-specific online resource where both sides can “match” with one another.

From the Field: PHI’s Matching Services Project houses a state-by-state online listing of matching service registries in the U.S., including information on their location, funding sources, geographic focus, and more.

7 | E-LEARNING

Training Widespread Audiences

E-learning methodologies have the potential to improve learning outcomes for large numbers of direct care workers. These methods can also reach workers who aren’t able to attend training sessions in person, and they might be cost-effective in the long-term.

From the Field: PHI will soon unveil its eLearning and training “specialty” curricula for direct care workers, which blends our 25-year expertise on training this workforce with best practices in eLearning.

Robert Espinoza
About The Author

Robert Espinoza

Vice President of Policy
Robert Espinoza oversees PHI's national policy, research, and communications division. He has been a national policy expert, communications strategist, and writer for 20 years.
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