Are we entering the Fourth Age of Care?

Whilst the care industry has evolved massively over the past 75 years, one thing has remained constant: societies’ love of its older generation. Socio-economic factors have changed hugely, which has forced the care industry to adapt the way in which it operates. However, love, respect and a desire to look after the vulnerable has remained consistent throughout the ages.
The last 75 years has seen care evolve through three previous, clearly definable ages: care within the family, residential (the big growth in retirement homes in the 1970s and 80s) and homecare starting in the 1990s. I believe we are now entering the “Fourth Age of Care”.
Since its inception in 1992, homecare has evolved enormously. Prior to working in the homecare industry, I witnessed the telecoms and internet boom during the 1990s and can honestly say that neither of those industries were evolving as rapidly as homecare is now. Take MS for example; back then, nobody would have predicted that aggressive MS could or would be treated in the home. There is also much greater awareness around learning disabilities and autism in the general population, and these people now require proper care. On top of this, homecare is increasingly becoming relied upon to relieve pressure on the NHS.
These societal changes are bringing about massive challenges in the homecare industry. It must adapt the way in which it operates as the UK population of those over 85 is set to double over the next 20 years. The care industry is being challenged from all quarters on quality and cost. Families also want greater transparency of the care provided and the complexity of care required outside of hospital settings is increasing. And our own research shows that 82% of those with relatives in care would choose a care service that receives real-time feedback on care notes and medication.
The key to meeting these challenges is to create a fully connected care community. There are not too many £5 billion industries where – if something goes wrong with the customer – they are passed into a process like that in homecare; where the home carer calls the supervisor, who is then in touch with the care manager, who will contact the pharmacy and the family, who will speak to the surgery and occupational therapist. In no other industry are there so many important stakeholders notified by single, point-to-point communications. The link between all parties needs to be made much stronger, much more interconnected.
With these monumental changes in society, I feel we are entering a Fourth Age of Care, an interconnected age of care.
The Fourth Age of Care is a substantial shift in care provision to meet the needs of families who demand better transparency, and the care services who need to reduce risk, to the different care stakeholders (pharmacies, social services, community nurses) who need to be connected. Products like the PASSsystem from everyLIFE Technologies is helping care services address the challenges, and benefit from the opportunities, of a new age in care. The technology allows for electronic care planning, real-time medication and care note reporting. In other words, it is helping stakeholders within the homecare industry become more interconnected.

Paul Barry, CEO of everyLIFE Technologies.

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