Published 27th October 2021 | Blog, Product Design

How Medical Product Design and Technology Improve Home-Based Healthcare

Care for the sick, infirm and elderly at home represents a vital alternative for NHS or private care in hospitals and care homes.

Whether it’s a pressure valve for overcrowded wards or a preference for the patient, home health and medical care has to be a firm fixture in the future of the UK healthcare sector.

For the elderly or those with long-term conditions impacting mobility, the decision to continue living at home has sometimes been made difficult because of a lack of care of in-home facilities for everyday life.

But now, with the advent of new, advanced technologies, it is much more of a realistic prospect.

In this article, we look at some of these advances in technology and products, and discuss how they can enable home living and health care for those who would otherwise not be able to benefit from it.  Before we get to that, let’s look at some of the benefits.

Benefits of home-based care

None of us can predict when we might need medical care or ongoing support. It may be for reasons of age and infirmity, recovery from an operation or injury or due to loss of movement or mobility or one of many other reasons.

But the view most people share is that if at all possible, they would rather be cared for or enabled to live at home rather than in a hospital or some other specialist facility. The main reasons are as follows:

Independence

Retaining independence is an important factor for most people, and the potential loss of independence can be a daunting prospect for anyone.

A key benefit of being able to remain at home for care and support is that it enables the individual to hold on to and manage certain key elements of life that are important: things like a choice of food, how to spend your time, flexibility with meal times and getting up and going to bed.

Having the final say on these decisions is important for independence, dignity and mental wellness for those who may otherwise may feel under the control of carers.

Shorter hospital stays

Nobody wants a prolonged stay in hospital for recovery from injury, illness, or an operation or for any other ongoing long-term condition, not least because of the risk of HAIs (Hospital Acquired Infections).

Being able to go home instead of staying in hospital is therefore a major benefit, provided the home environment is equipped with the necessary tools and facilities and is suitably adapted.

At the same time, overburdened hospitals need individuals to be discharged to home-based care as soon as possible to make beds available for new patients.

Familiarity

Most of us like to be surrounded by our personal possessions, our home comforts. In our own home we know where things are and how things work.  

We also like to have our favourite things to hand, perhaps books and objects, memories and mementos of the past that remind us of earlier life. Having access to these things is important for mental health and wellbeing.

Safety and security

Home-based care can be safer than hospital or care home based care, particularly where infectious diseases are concerned – as evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Again independence and familiarity both play a role in safety here, because your own home can be adapted with mobility and communication aids that may not always be possible in a shared care environment.

Equipment optimised specifically to an individual – such as a bed hoist or specially adapted bathroom equipment – can be set up to assist with safety and prevent accident or injury.

Convenience for carers

People requiring care and who live at home may live with or be visited by family members and other carers who carry out a whole range of tasks from everyday mundane jobs such as cleaning to more important roles like managing money.

For these carers, looking after someone at home is potentially a lot easier than having to commute back and forth to a hospital or home for visits. Food shopping, helping with bills and payments, banking, as well as appointments with hairdressers, chiropodists and other medical providers is so much easier with a home-based patient.

Technologies and products enabling home care

To facilitate home-based care, technologies such as

Volumetric ambulatory pumps

Volumetric ambulatory pumps are adapted from their hospital-based large volume volumetric pump cousins and can be readily used in a home environment.

A Volumetric ambulatory pumps

The key benefit of ambulatory pumps is that they are not tethered to an IV stand that must be wheeled around the place.

Instead, they are designed to be made from lightweight materials, allowing the user the freedom to administer drugs over a long period discretely.

Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity

For patients living at home where 24-hour monitoring is required, the IoT allows medical staff to monitor their compliance with drug routines remotely.

The condition of patients can also be monitored remotely, so that any alarms and alerts can be responded to quickly.

If compliant patients fail to respond to treatment, remote prescriptions can be adjusted, or the patient can be called in for further diagnosis and treatment.

About Cambridge Design Technology

Cambridge Design Technology has extensive experience in medical technology and product design used both in hospital and home-care environments. To discuss any aspect of your product and technology needs, contact us on 01223 662300 or email info@cambridge-dt.com .

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