SMART Technology at Broom Court - Caring for people in the 21st century

By Sarah Campbell

Already a hot topic on bespoken, we recently revisited Blackwood’s care home at Broom Court in Stirling where SMART technology is being developed to help Blackwood’s staff provide the best possible care and improve the independence of residents. This week we spoke to staff at Broom Court to find out how well they feel the trials are going.

The device was originally introduced in June and can be most simply described as a touch screen monitor – a bit like a Kindle – with buttons that include ‘alert’, ‘ask for help’ but also more personalised things like ‘photos’ and ‘games’.

With these options available, I was excited to find out how the devices were being used in the early stages of its introduction. I spoke with care assistant Shauni Meiklejohn who explained that at the moment the new devices are being used mostly for entertainment purposes:

“Residents are really enjoying the games and radio – some of them have got things that they like on them, like gardening and football... Their confidence is getting better every day.”

James Conroy, also a care assistant, agreed and explained how an App, such as Skype, can really help improve the level of care they are able to provide:

“We can link people up with friends and relatives... One of our residents has a friend in Australia and we’re going to support him to make Skype calls so they can speak face-to-face which can only be a good thing for his happiness.”

Some members of staff, such as Jolene Tiereny, were unsure what to make of the technology at first:

“I was terrified – I thought it was all going to go wrong and it wasn’t going to work and I didn’t think the residents were going to come to terms with it.”

It seems that these fears are, for the most part, unfounded, especially when you consider how one resident who “didn’t want it in the building or anywhere near him” now “doesn’t want anybody else to touch it”.

Others have been enthusiastic from the beginning, James has always been confident of its potential to improve the living and working environment:

“From the offset I’ve thought it was absolutely fantastic. It’s not about cutting any jobs, it’s all about empowerment and using our time effectively."

“Ultimately it will improve the level of care we can provide – it’s more person-centred and opens up other avenues we wouldn’t normally be able to.”

Of course, nothing is without its problems and at the moment there is an issue with the connectivity with the video call function but this is being addressed.

It is hoped that when the video call function is fixed it will allow for a less intrusive environment, and a more “normal” experience, as James explains:

“At the moment if there is a problem you might have to go to someone’s door and disturb them in their sleep to check everything’s OK, but this way, with their permission of course, you can check on them quickly without waking them up.”

The feedback is indicative of a very strong start for SMART technology, with confidence and enthusiasm growing as the days, weeks and months go on. And with SMART Technology due to be rolled out soon in other Blackwood developments, the valuable lessons learned at Broom Court will be of huge value.


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