Cotswold Life

Em­brac­ing the fu­ture

How care homes for older peo­ple are us­ing new tech­nolo­gies in a va­ri­ety of in­no­va­tive ways

- WORDS: Business · United Kingdom · Facebook · England · GPS · Gloucestershire · Cardiff · British Cycling · Sheryl Sandberg · Renishaw

In April, the UK gov­ern­ment said that NHSX was work­ing with tech com­pa­nies to help in­di­vid­u­als ac­cess emo­tional sup­port and com­pan­ion­ship dur­ing the COVID-19 out­break. Within this, Face­book was set to do­nate Face­book Por­tal video calling de­vices to care homes.

How times have changed. Care sec­tor spe­cial­ist Blue­leaf says care homes ‘used to be no­to­ri­ously be­hind the times when it came to tech­nol­ogy’

– yet now, this ‘couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth’. Daniel Cas­son, dig­i­tal de­vel­op­ment ex­ec­u­tive at Care Eng­land, adds that the coro­n­avirus cri­sis – while ‘a hor­ri­ble thing to hap­pen’ – has ‘ac­cel­er­ated the use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy’ in care homes for older peo­ple ‘ex­po­nen­tially’. He feels the cri­sis con­sti­tutes ‘a kick­start for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion in care’.

Speak­ing dur­ing the UK coro­n­avirus lock­down in April,

Daniel says video calling is one of the key ways care homes for older peo­ple in Eng­land are us­ing dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies at this time. Aside from be­ing used to let res­i­dents keep in touch with loved ones, GPS are un­der­tak­ing con­sul­ta­tions with it, speech ther­a­pists are ‘us­ing it very suc­cess­fully to keep in touch with their clients’ and en­ter­tain­ers are also pro­vid­ing en­ter­tain­ment with it. Daniel also notes that re­mote mon­i­tor­ing in older peo­ple’s care homes in Eng­land has ‘seen mas­sive growth’ and that homes are ‘find­ing new ways to re­cruit dig­i­tally’ as re­gards to tak­ing on staff.

Ac­cord­ing to the dig­i­tal de­vel­op­ment ex­ec­u­tive, the use of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies means care homes are more ef­fi­cient with how they use their work­force – their ros­ter­ing can be done more ef­fi­ciently – and they can save money on agency as they can com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple and bring in­di­vid­u­als in for shifts. Mean­while, em­ploy­ing dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies im­proves res­i­dents’ qual­ity of life as staff ‘no longer have to rum­mage around for data and ac­cess’ and can mon­i­tor re­motely, mean­ing ‘they have more time to be with the peo­ple who re­ally need them’.

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy-us­age in older peo­ple’s care homes can also in­crease qual­ity of life for res­i­dents – by giv­ing homes in­stant ac­cess to their pref­er­ences via the data about them – and stim­u­late them as they are able to have con­tact with their fam­i­lies when­ever they wish (de­pend­ing on ca­pac­itylevel).

Daniel feels that more work will be done go­ing for­ward to at­tempt to im­prove upon the tech­no­log­i­cal work un­der­taken in care dur­ing the coro­n­avirus cri­sis. As such, it looks as if the fu­ture is dig­i­tal for older peo­ple’s care homes.

The like­li­hood is that you, or a fam­ily mem­ber, will have spent at least some time work­ing from home since lock­down be­gan. Ac­cord­ing to per­sonal fi­nance com­par­i­son site, Fin­der.com, a huge 60% of us were work­ing from home as of April 2020, which has led many com­men­ta­tors to dub the last few months as a ‘ mass work from home ex­per­i­ment’.

The tran­si­tion to work­ing from home has no doubt been more wel­come for some of us than oth­ers. Many peo­ple soon no­ticed pos­i­tives such as an in­crease in pro­duc­tiv­ity as a re­sult of fewer dis­trac­tions, as well as more time to ac­tu­ally spend work­ing thanks to the elim­i­na­tion of time spent com­mut­ing. For some par­ents in par­tic­u­lar, the abil­ity to work from home and to work flex­i­ble hours has been a huge pos­i­tive. In the long term, work­ing from home has the po­ten­tial to cause a re­duc­tion in pol­lu­tion lev­els due to fewer of us em­bark­ing on the daily com­mute, and it can also save com­pa­nies the costs that come with rent­ing of­fice space. Matt Mckenna, head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Fin­der.com, ex­plains that there can be fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits for each in­di­vid­ual, too. ‘ Fin­der’s re­cent re­search found the av­er­age UK worker is cur­rently sav­ing around £45 each week by not com­mut­ing or buy­ing lunch dur­ing the lock­down,’ he says.

Some have even said that this shift to re­mote work­ing is long over­due, es­pe­cially with vast im­prove­ments in tech­nol­ogy in re­cent years and an ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of us bal­anc­ing work­ing with child­care. ‘Sur­veys pre-pan­demic show that many more peo­ple wanted to and thought they could work re­motely than were al­lowed to. The pan­demic seems to bear that out. Hope­fully the ex­pe­ri­ence will show em­ploy­ers who were re­sis­tant that it is pos­si­ble to work ef­fec­tively from home,’ com­ments Mandy Garner, manag­ing edi­tor of Work­ing­mums.co.uk, an on­line plat­form that al­lows par­ents and car­ers to search for flex­i­ble, part­time and home-based jobs.

She adds that since Work­ing­mums.co.uk was founded in 2006, at­ti­tudes among em­ploy­ers have changed hugely. ‘Flex­i­ble work­ing was per­ceived mainly as a bit of a favour done to mums,’ she says. ‘There was lit­tle re­search about it. Now we have count­less stud­ies show­ing the ben­e­fits.’ Work­ing­mums.co.uk also have a tool­kit for em­ploy­ers on their web­site, which in­cludes lots of re­mote work­ing sup­port. Matt agrees that we were al­ready see­ing a grad­ual shift be­fore the pan­demic. ‘A lot of com­pa­nies had al­ready come round to the idea of let­ting staff work from home oc­ca­sion­ally, with ben­e­fits rang­ing from in­creased morale and job at­trac­tive­ness, through to sav­ings in of­fice space,’ he says.

How­ever, for oth­ers the tran­si­tion has not been so smooth. A key con­cern is lone­li­ness, with Fin­der.com re­port­ing that 19% of re­mote work­ers were strug­gling with this. Even with video calls, it is very dif­fi­cult to re-cre­ate the buzzing dy­namic of an of­fice. Many peo­ple also have a daily bat­tle with a poor Wifi con­nec­tion, and there’s the chal­lenge of switch­ing off once the work­ing day is over. An of­fice cre­ates a phys­i­cal and men­tal line be­tween work and home, which is blurred when work­ing from home.

It does seem that our of­fices still serve a num­ber of cru­cial func­tions, but if cur­rent trends and at­ti­tudes are any­thing to go by, re­mote work­ing looks set to con­tinue for many more years to come.

Ac­cord­ing to the Women’s En­gi­neer­ing So­ci­ety only around 25 per cent of girls aged 16 to 18 would con­sider a ca­reer in en­gi­neer­ing.

Glouces­ter­shire-based tech­nolo­gies com­pany Ren­ishaw spoke to Lily Joyce, se­nior project man­ager, about her ex­pe­ri­ences in the in­dus­try.

Lily has man­aged im­por­tant and in­no­va­tive projects such as the Olympic Bike with Bri­tish cy­cling and, most re­cently, man­aged the ma­chin­ing of com­po­nents for the Ven­ti­la­tor Chal­lenge UK. She now wants to show other girls that there are so many path­ways to ex­plore in the in­dus­try.

Why did you de­cide to be­come an en­gi­neer?

Grow­ing up I was fas­ci­nated with health­care and how they use sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy to save lives. At school, I at­tended a sem­i­nar about ca­reers in medicine, which in­cluded a sem­i­nar on the en­gi­neer­ing con­cepts of pros­thetic limbs. I was ex­cited to dis­cover how bi­ol­ogy and en­gi­neer­ing can have such a pro­found im­pact on peo­ple’s lives.

Can you tell me about your ca­reer to date?

I stud­ied Med­i­cal En­gi­neer­ing at Cardiff Univer­sity, be­fore join­ing Ren­ishaw as a grad­u­ate. I started by shad­ow­ing other project man­agers in the En­coders Prod­ucts Divi­sion.

Dur­ing my time there I worked along­side de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing teams to man­age projects in­volv­ing main­tain­ing prod­uct qual­ity, main­te­nance of pro­duc­tion lines and cus­tomer spe­cific re­quire­ments I set up new pro­cesses and struc­tures, in­volv­ing en­tirely new ways of work­ing.

I then moved into Group En­gi­neer­ing where I be­came in­volved in a broader range of busi­ness spe­cific projects, from the Olympic bike to Ven­ti­la­tor Chal­lenge UK.

What project are you most proud of?

Work­ing as the project man­ager for Ren­ishaw’s con­tri­bu­tion to Ven­ti­la­tor Chal­lenge UK, co-or­di­nat­ing the pro­duc­tion of crit­i­cal ma­chined com­po­nents for two com­ple­men­tary de­vices se­lected by the NHS.

My role was driv­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween our teams to pro­duce over 100,000 parts in six weeks. I also acted as the con­tact be­tween Ren­ishaw and the wider con­sor­tium on all as­pects, in­clud­ing project sched­ules, qual­ity re­quire­ments and le­gal. I acted as the sin­gle point of con­tact, where ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween con­sor­tium teams was es­sen­tial for suc­cess­ful de­liv­ery of the ven­ti­la­tors.

What is your favourite project so far?

Work­ing on the Olympic bike with Bri­tish Cy­cling and Lo­tus has been an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. We started pro­duc­ing pro­to­types, be­fore be­com­ing a part­ner of Bri­tish Cy­cling as its of­fi­cial ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing (AM) sup­plier.

As the de­sign of the bike de­vel­oped, I worked along­side Lo­tus to help de­sign the bike for our AM ma­chines, co­or­di­nat­ing de­sign and sup­port­ing as we moved into man­u­fac­tur­ing. Though each bike is spe­cific to its rider, there are com­mon parts, so I helped es­tab­lish a small pro­duc­tion line.

What is your ad­vice to girls con­sid­er­ing a ca­reer in en­gi­neer­ing?

My ad­vice would be to do your re­search, ex­plore what en­gi­neer­ing in­volves and where it could take you. En­gi­neer­ing can lead you down many path­ways. You may study it as an in­di­vid­ual dis­ci­pline, like me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing, but you don’t work alone — you are sup­ported with soft­ware en­gi­neers, elec­tri­cal en­gi­neers, project man­agers, mar­ket­ing and more. When I was younger, I didn’t know what en­gi­neer­ing was, as an in­dus­try we can raise aware­ness of the breadth of op­por­tu­ni­ties and show that they are open to ev­ery­one. I am now very pas­sion­ate about the de­vel­op­ment of those en­ter­ing the in­dus­try, help­ing them to progress along their own path­way and ex­plore their skills in dif­fer­ent ways.

Who is your STEM hero and why?

Sh­eryl Sand­berg, the COO of Face­book. I en­joyed her book Lean In, which is about how women work­ing in tech­nol­ogy can get their voice heard, not get lost in the room and the nat­u­ral bi­ases around men and women and how to coun­ter­act them.

I have since co-founded a Di­ver­sity and In­clu­sion Group at Ren­ishaw, which will launch later this year, to sup­port my col­leagues of all back­grounds.

 ??  ?? ABOVE:
The use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has be­come more preva­lent in care homes
ABOVE: The use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has be­come more preva­lent in care homes
 ??  ?? ABOVE: Work­ing from home can make time for all the fam­ily
ABOVE: Work­ing from home can make time for all the fam­ily
 ??  ?? Lily Joyce of Ren­ishaw
Lily Joyce of Ren­ishaw

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