Addressing the UK’s Elderly Care Crisis with Scalable Senior Care Technology

The UK is experiencing an elderly care crisis.

Over 1,500 care homes shut down between 2015 to 2020, a staggering rate for a country with an elderly population that grew 22% in the same time period. The NHS is simultaneously confronting a shortage of workers and caregivers in the adult care sector, with almost 11% of social care jobs unfilled.

Compounded by an already overburdened healthcare system, the availability of critical senior care is at risk at a time when more and more seniors are seeking to live independently for as long as possible.

There is an urgent need for systemic, nationwide solutions that will allow seniors to safely live where they want, avoid emergencies, and receive suitable care in the most effective way. Fortunately, there are solutions within reach – sustainable, scalable, digital tools that can replace outdated care technology, alleviate burnout among professionals, and personalize care offerings for aging generations.

The Dangers of an Overburdened System

For both elderly citizens and their caregivers, the strain on senior care systems is a worrying crisis.

Recent reports found that only one care home opens for every two closures, a trend that will no doubt aggravate the already diminishing longevity rates across the UK. Without adequate care homes and staffing and no plan of action to address this growing crisis, senior life expectancy will continue to decline, and health outcomes could deteriorate even further.

With 152,000 unfilled positions for elderly care providers across England, healthcare workers have experienced a palpable impact from strain. Indeed, 75% of NHS staff reported struggling with poor mental health in the last year, while English nurses took 1,675,275 stress-induced sick days in 2023, further perpetuating the cycle of staff shortages and overburdening.

The number of citizens aged 85 and over is expected to increase from 1.6 million to 2.6 million in the next 15 years, exacerbating the already overburdened state of the senior care and healthcare systems in the UK.

Tech Can Shoulder the Burden

While there is no replacement for adequate staff to care for today’s growing elderly population, a scalable, technology-driven approach would allow for care to be applied exponentially more efficiently and effectively, alleviating strain for all impacted by this crisis.

A concerning 78.5% of NHS workers are considering leaving the field due to burnout. Technology that can mitigate overwork has the potential to prevent those departures. Such technological solutions can also reduce the amount of unpaid work provided by the 1.2 million unpaid carers in England and Wales.

Harnessing technology that reduces workloads for staffers and supports independent senior living will go a long way towards creating a long-term sustainable care model.

Tech-Enabled Care

In England and Wales, 3.3 million people aged 65 years and over are living alone. This population needs ongoing monitoring to make independent living safe and tenable. But around-the-clock human caregiving is expensive and hard to find, even more so as caregiver shortages grow.

This is where tech-enabled care (TEC), such as digital remote patient monitoring (RPM), radar-based fall detection tools, and panic button devices, will be a critical ally for the elderly and their loved ones.

For instance, hub-based RPM technology like Essence SmartCare’s Care@Home systemwhich includes everything from wearable blood pressure and heart rate monitors to physical activity trackers and glucometers—reduces the need for in-person care by helping make home care more comfortable and convenient, and by catching life threatening incidents earlier and lowering the need for regular check-ups to monitor vitals.

Fall detection devicesin-home or wearable sensors designed to know when a user has fallen and might need medical assistancecan also ensure remote support for seniors. Such tools enable seniors to not only live independently and even travel without a caregiver, but help them avoid the health implications that result from lying helpless for prolonged periods following a fall.

By implementing such tech solutions, more elderly citizens will be able to live safely and comfortably at home, alleviating the need for elderly-specific beds and housing, and reducing the workload for personal caregivers.

A New Age of Old-Age Care

Healthcare services in the UK are overburdened amidst insufficient resources for the country’s elderly population and overworked healthcare workers. Scalable and uncompromised senior care technology will be critical in alleviating the burden on caregivers and enhancing the quality of life for seniors.

By embracing digital solutions such as smart RPM and radar-based fall detection systems, local authorities can not only fill the current gaps in healthcare systems but also establish a sustainable framework to support independent living and improve health outcomes for a generation of citizens who deserve to grow old with grace and good health.

Carl Ryan, UK Sales Manager of Essence SmartCare


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