Apps and technology to help carers
As a carer you it’s likely you’ll always be on the look out for ways to make your life a bit easier.
But you might not have thought about how technology and the internet can help when it comes to caring.
Using the internet
Using the internet to order shopping, do banking tasks or deal with patient GP records can help carers to manage busy and often complex lives. Once you get started doing things online is quick, easy and can save a trip out to the bank or shops.
If you aren’t very confident using computers and the internet, Derbyshire Adult Education run computer courses around the county.
Learn My Way has free online courses about using the internet including doing online shopping, online banking, using social media and internet safety.
If you are eligible for support from Derbyshire County Council, you may be able to use your carer personal budget to pay course fees to help get you online. This would only be possible if using online services could help you meet your eligible needs and would be subject to a carers assessment.
Many carers communicate with each other through online forums and groups. Forums are a great way of getting support from people in a similar situattion.
There are a range of apps for smartphones, tablets and computers that can help you organise care for the person you support. Some are free to download while others cost a few pounds.
Group sharing apps for carers
Jointly is a mobile and online application created by carers for carers, in partnership with Carers UK. It allows all the people involved with caring for a person to share information and keep track of who in the caring circle is doing what. It combines group messaging with shared to-do lists, medication lists, calendars and contacts.
As a member of the group you can add things to the joint to-do list, such as taking the person you care for to an appointment, and the others in the group can volunteer to help out. You also have a profile of the person you care for where you can store all their medical information and emergency contacts in one place so that all members of the group can access it quickly.
Jointly costs £2.99 to download – but it’s only the person who set’s up the circle who has to pay, you can invite as many people to join the circle as you like without additional charge.
CaringBridge works in a very similar way to Jointly. It is free to download and allows you to connect with family and friends who are helping to look after the person you care for.
If you are the main carer for the person you look after, apps like Jointly and CaringBridge are a great way of asking other family members and friends for help as well as keeping them up-to-date.
NB. The apps listed above are not endorsed by Carers in Derbyshire and are listed simply as a starting point for you to do your own research about which apps may work for you. Remember to take steps to stay safe online.
Mobile devices and apps are increasingly are being used to look after health, wellbeing and fitness. You may be able to find an app that helps you manage the condition of the person you care for. The myhealthapps.net website has a directory of apps about health conditions.
The patient.co.uk app has a database of information leaflets on health, conditions and diseases. It also allows you to locate health services and quickly find phone numbers of services including pharmacies and hospitals in your area.
Tracking apps and devices
Many modern smartphones have a built in Global Positioning System (GPS) which is a navigational aid that uses signals from satellites to track the whereabouts of the device. You can also buy stand-alone GPS devices such as a wristband and even a system you put in the bottom of your shoe! You track the GPS device by logging into an accompanying desktop computer, laptop, tablet or phone application and it will show you on a map the whereabouts of the device.
GPS is useful if you care for someone who is able to get out and about independently, but may just need someone to keep an eye on them and check they are okay - such as someone with visual impairments, early onset dementia, autism or learning disabilities.
Unforgettable is a website selling helpful products aimed at people with dementia, but their GPS tracker products could be useful for a wide range of people. The Alzheimer's Society also have advice about technology and have their own shop.
If the person you care for has a smartphone, search whichever app store they use (e.g iTunes or Google Play) for GPS trackers to download onto their device. Apple phones have 'find my friends' or 'find my iPhone' which are free of charge.
Telecare, aids and equipment
Although telecare is aimed at helping the person you care for, it can help make life easier for carers in many ways. For example, it reduces the need to make ‘just in case’ checks and offers reassurance. If you’re caring for a husband, wife, relative or friend, you could have the chance to enjoy some much needed ‘me’ time knowing that telecare would let someone know if there was a problem.
Aids and equipment may be able to help the person you care for carry out certain tasks independently and reduce the pressure on you.
Telehealth systems can be used to monitor conditions such as asthma, heart failure, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The person with the condition uses equipment such as blood pressure monitors, oxygen saturation level meters to and blood sugar tests to measure their vital signs and temperature in their own homes. The person or their carer then sends their readings to a doctor or nurse through the internet or by text so they can monitor their condition. Carers UK has further information.
Telehealth isn’t being used by Derbyshire GPs at the moment but if you if think it would be something you’d like to use in future, make sure you tell your GP.
Other helpful websites
- Carers UK - technology and equipment
- Derbyshire County Council - help to live at home
- Carers Trust - getting started with online shopping
- Online carer communities and advice lines
- NHS Choices - accessing health records
- Tunstall - telecare and telehealth to help carers
- The Royal Institute for the Blind - apps and technology
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