Max Parmentier, CEO and co-founder of Birdie – the leading home healthcare tech platform – discusses how technology can play a huge factor in helping the elderly during the climate crisis. 

The heatwaves that swept across Europe this summer killed thousands of people according to preliminary data. While everyone has been impacted differently by the weather, our elderly population have suffered the most, as they are unable to regulate their internal temperature, which means they don’t notice when they are too hot or dehydrated. This has naturally placed additional strain on the care professionals caring for the elderly, who are having to track these changes and increase visits based on the change in temperature. 

This is no easy feat for a sector that is already facing a massive staff shortage with more than 100,000 vacancies which has cut down the time existing staff have to care for their elderly patients. Add extreme weather conditions to the mix and you are left with a potential crisis on your hands.

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So how can care providers continue to deliver quality care in a time of staff shortages and additional complications caused by the extreme weather?

Educating staff to ensure best practice

Excessive heat can introduce a range of new health conditions or exacerbate existing ones if not closely monitored. That attention needs to be provided by people with the right knowledge and understanding but that can only come from specialist training.

Care providers should prioritise the education of their frontline workers to secure the health of their clients in the long term. This training should provide science-supported details about the relevant symptoms to watch out for. In relation to a heatwave, these would include loss of appetite, dizziness, and confusion. The training should also then provide adequate practical information about suitable responses to these symptoms: drinking enough fluids, eating a balanced diet, and knowing when to contact a qualified health professional.

We should expect more extreme weather events as a result of climate change. Teaching care professionals how to respond to different situations and symptoms now would be a wise investment for the future.

Using technology to improve organisational efficiency

Responding to heat-related health problems will require time and energy from care professionals. But those are resources many are unable to give during the ongoing staff shortages. To resolve this problem, it’s crucial that care providers adopt more efficient organisational processes to make more time available for those who need it.

Technology will play a crucial role in this transition. Limited technological advances have meant that the sector has been unable to provide highly-personalised care over the past decade. But new software and hardware are now available to enable that change.

Technology that improves our capacity to collect, store, and analyse data presents one of the most significant of those advances. Digital platforms now allow care professionals to harvest a lot more information, with greater ease, about their clients. These platforms also have access to much larger storage capacity through cloud data centres to save that information.

Once stored, advanced algorithms and machines supported by artificial intelligence can perform analyses of the extensive information which can provide life saving insight and create a move towards more preventative care. This would have never been possible before the ‘digital revolution’. It would have taken too much time. But now, using data relating to clients’ medication schedule and living conditions, digital platforms could even suggest who care providers should prioritise on their rounds.

This kind of service is invaluable while care providers experience staff shortages during extreme weather events. It allows them to save time and secure the best health outcomes. That, in turn, helps them to provide the best possible service for their clients.

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