David McKinney, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Tunstall Healthcare comments on Digital Health and Care Week in Scotland.

As this week is Digital Health and Care week in Scotland, as a Scot and Managing Director of the market leading provider of digital Connected Healthcare, I felt now was a good time to share not just my professional, but my personal experience of telecare.

I have lived in Yorkshire for twelve years, close to Tunstall’s head office at Whitley, however my mum still lives in Ayrshire in Scotland. I am the only one of mum’s children living in the UK and there is no other family living close to her, so I share the concerns that many people have about older parents who don’t live nearby. My mum has a heart condition (which has led to her having a pacemaker fitted), and this was one of the reasons she moved to a retirement housing development several years ago. There is a manager onsite during working hours and response services available 24 hours a day – 7 days a week, linked to a telecare alarm system.

Before I joined Tunstall I had little awareness of these systems and the benefits, but was immensely reassured that Mum had access to help from anywhere in her home at any time of day. It meant that the required emergency services would be contacted immediately, as would I if there was an issue, but mum still had her independence. Of course, in my role at Tunstall I am now much better acquainted with the connected healthcare market! And it’s nice to think that what we do is giving millions of other people the same peace of mind that Mum and I get from Tunstall.

As fantastic as these basic telecare systems are, technology is moving fast, and we are seeing incredible advances in the way we can use technology to support people’s independence and quality of life at home, largely as a result of digital adoption. Tunstall’s latest generation of digital Connected Healthcare solutions open up a new world of possibilities for the provision of healthcare in the home, making services faster, more efficient and more insightful. When we link these to other technologies such as smart thermostats we can enable people like me to take a much more active role in caring for their relatives, regardless of location.

Scotland is a world leader in the development of digital health and care, with the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare and a dedicated £30 million Technology Enabled Care Programme. It is currently developing a new Digital Health and Social Care Strategy 2017-2022 which is due to be issued before the end of the year. I look forward to reading it, and finding out if there are lessons to be learnt by the rest of the UK by taking a proactive and focused approach to using technology to help people live longer, healthier lives.