A new online guide from United Hospital Fund can help family caregivers evaluate technologies created for them. The guide presents questions family caregivers should consider when deciding whether to buy an electronic product or service to assist with the care of their family member.
A Family Caregiver's Guide to Electronic Organizers, Monitors, Sensors, and Apps is the latest addition to the library of 30 guides for family caregivers found on UHF's Next Step in Care website (www.NextStepInCare.org), which helps family caregivers and health care providers work closely together to plan and implement safe and smooth transitions for chronically or seriously ill patients. With guides and other tools for both family caregivers and health care providers, the website emphasizes careful planning, clear communication, and ongoing care coordination.
“Our guide's value is greatest at the very beginning of a family caregiver's search,” said Carol Levine, director of UHF's Families and Health Care Project. “It helps caregivers think through a range of key questions: What problem are you trying to address? What do you and your family member want from this technology? What will it cost over time? And can—and will—an older person or someone with disabilities use the technology? Technology can be so overwhelming, we have set out to help family caregivers think through what is important to them.” She adds, “The guide is not about product comparisons.”
The guide features sections focused on popular types of technology: organizers of health information, scheduling and communication tools, personal emergency response systems, and monitoring devices for inside and outside the home. The guide also includes a list of terms and definitions and ways to learn more about technology.
Like all the Next Step in Care family caregiver guides, the new guide is free and available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. It is available at http://www.nextstepincare.org/Caregiver_Home/Technology/.
“Research done by UHF and others documents the complex burden on today's family caregivers, and technology will undoubtedly play an increasingly important role in helping family caregivers assist their family members,” said Jim Tallon, president of the United Hospital Fund. “But technology won't magically make challenges disappear, and not every technology is for every person. We hope this guide proves indispensable as family caregivers figure out what can work best for them.”
About the United Hospital Fund: The United Hospital Fund is a health services research and philanthropic organization whose primary mission is to shape positive change in health care for the people of New York.