We spoke to HaloCare CEO Sarah Jane O’Dwyer about the importance of protecting dignity and respect when providing patient-centred care from the comfort of home.
The health and wellbeing benefits of living in the comfort of your own home is not something that can easily be measured, certainly not in terms of raw data. You only need to speak to someone working in the care sector to see the difference they make to people every day and understand how support services protect that sense of normality, community and familiarity.
While it can be easy to take the small things for granted, they are worth protecting whenever possible. Sleeping in your own bed at night or looking out your own window each morning are little chapters that make up the story of an average day, they are important aspects of everyday life.
Founded in late 2020 to help people live independently at home, Carlow-based start-up HaloCare uses the latest technology to provide extra support for those who need it, without them losing that irreplaceable sense of feeling at home.
The HaloCare solution provides independence for people by installing devices in the home that provide insights and alerts the HaloCare clinical care team should the client need a little extra support. It is a complementary service to traditional homecare solutions, meaning in the hours of the day that family or professional homecare cannot be there, HaloCare can.
While it would be easy to assume this is achieved through the use of cameras and microphones, in actuality it is smart devices and sensors that are used in a way that equally protects the privacy and overall health of the person. HaloCare’s smart devices and sensors operate as discreetly as possible to track those activities and tell the individual’s day story.
Their Care Specialists work around the clock; 24/7 and 365 days a year, with regular communication and one-to-one calls with the client and ensuring their circle of care is kept informed. You can find out more about HaloCare by visiting the website here.
Recently announced as CEO of HaloCare, Sarah Jane O’Dwyer has spent much of her career to date helping people, both in her time as a critical care nurse and at an operations level by collaborating with and leading medical organisations. In short, you would have a difficult task in finding someone with a better understanding of how many different aspects are involved in providing care for a loved one.
Irish hospitals are under severe pressure across the board, so it is easy to understand the need for a support service such as HaloCare that can help people live independently in their own homes. This pressure on the acute healthcare system is affecting the number of beds available, how long it takes for a patient to be seen and the overall process can be quite a stressful one, especially for older people or those with a long-term illness.
“The current healthcare structure is that if you are unwell, you go to your GP. However, a lot of people bypass their GP and go straight into A&E. That means in A&E you’ve got the acute patients who desperately need to see somebody in an emergency, but you’ve also got people who could have gone to a primary care centre or could have gone to their GP.
“So you’ve got that huge pressure on the emergency department, along with a limited supply of beds,” Sarah Jane says.
Sarah Jane says the current system in Ireland could benefit greatly from the service and technology HaloCare provide, offering comprehensive support to those who need it in the comfort of their own home. HaloCare can reduce people presenting at A&E, increase early discharge and reduce hospital readmissions.
“What’s different about HaloCare is that we provide a very high level of service 24/7, 365 and access to the support a client needs, where and when they need it, in the community. This is not merely applicable to aged care, it covers anyone who needs a little extra support to live a healthier quality of life at home.
“So, this would include aspects of healthcare such as disability services, chronic disease management, and early discharge from hospital. HaloCare can facilitate the holistic view of that patient when they’re at home, in the comfort of their own home as opposed to sitting in a hospital bed,” she says.
“The question I ask is why couldn’t the patient have a comprehensive level of support from the comfort of home? Why couldn’t a clinician prescribe exactly the same support, whether they need to see an Occupational Therapist or a Physiotherapist to get a review, but from the comfort of their own home, where appropriate?
“If you’re living in certain counties and have to go to another county to see the specialist consultant, you could have that consultation through the tablets that we provide, our HaloPad,” she says.
Traditionally, the care of older people would have required choosing between a visiting or live-in carer or admission into a nursing home or hospital. We are lucky enough to live in a time where technology is capable of doing incredible things, including helping us take care of the ones we love.
One of the most important aspects of this service is protecting the person’s dignity and giving them the respect that they deserve. As well as that, there is a need to strike a balance for each individual’s circumstance in terms of what level of care would be most appropriate.
“From the client’s point of view, if they are getting older for example and they just need a little bit of extra support, they’re very happy to have the HaloCare system in place. It means that they can age in place in their own home, and that is so important to people.
“At certain stages in people’s lives, they may need some extra support such as when they are discharged from hospital or after a diagnosis of a long-term illness.
“The nursing home has its place, but it’s for people that are at a certain stage in their ageing journey and have had a decline in cognitive or physical abilities that may require that kind of care.
“Others at different stages don’t always want to go into a nursing home or long-term care facility. They just need a little bit more help, a little bit more support, and it can be done virtually,” she says.
Technology, as is so often the case, is already playing a role in creating more options for people that would not have been available in years gone by. Whether it be making tea with your own kettle or dinner in your own oven, any service that uses it to protect life’s little everyday moments is something that we can all understand and appreciate.
HaloCare fosters independence and empowers people to live a better quality of life, with the care they need when and where they need it. Visit their website here.