Unless you really, really need to be in hospital, the last place you should be is in hospital. Acute hospitals are designed to provide acute care – to make you well enough to go to a place that can meet your day to day needs in a better way – hopefully that will be your home, it might also be the home of a relative or it might be a nursing home.
Hospitals house sick people who carry bacteria, there are shared wards with people who are very, very ill, there are lights which go on very early in the morning, and go off late at night, you have to listen to other people’s TV choices, you are confined. Hospital is a tough place to be.
When you leave hospital, we hope you will have the support you need. Many people have formal visits from healthcare assistants once, twice or three times a day. This helps with getting out of bed, getting washed, getting meals and going to bed.
Hopefully you have people you like around you to help you with other things but it is also very frustrating not to be able to do simple things, that you wouldn’t have even noticed yourself doing in the past:
- Like turning on and off a light or the heating;
- Reading a book;
- Even calling someone on the phone.
The good news is that there are lots of reasonably-priced technology options to help with these things and they might just make the transition to home a little easier.
Examples of Lifelines
Amazon’s Echo Dot https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amazon-Echo-Dot– currently about €65 (though sometimes dearer), is a small plug-in device, which can answer basic questions: like what time is it? what temperature is it outside? What’s the weather forecast? But it also has the functionality to call other echo dots – so for example, if you have a fall, and your son, John Smith has an Echo Dot (including the app), you can say, “Call John Smith”, and the Dot will do the necessary. This last bit requires some set-up and is not officially rolled out in Ireland yet, but is available in the US and UK. It can also be done in Ireland, just not officially.
Google Home Mini https://store.google.com/google_home_mini – costs about the same as the Amazon’s Echo Dot. It does more or less the same as the Echo Dot. Like the Amazon Echo, Google Home can play music and record a shopping list. They can both also control devices like lights and heating systems.
Both the Echo Dot and Google Home are amazing devices, always learning, always developing. The microphones are amazing – they can hear and decipher speech and accents easily. To be honest, though Google Home feels like a much friendlier device.
Connecting Your Home
Many companies are now producing Smart Lights – lights that change colour and brightness through a remote control and/or an app. Philips Hue were certainly one of the early developers but these devices are still expensive. https://www.amazon.co.uk/philips_hue
I have recently tried out the IKEA’s Tradfri http://www.ikea.com/smart-lighting/ bulbs with remote control: €40 for a bulb and remote control. It’s another €28 for a wifi gateway that means you can control several of these bulbs from an app on a phone or a tablet.
Alexa Dot and Google Home can be used to control smart light systems by voice.
Heating and Everything Else
Nest https://nest.com/ie/ and Hive https://www.hivehome.com/ie are whole home systems that both include camera and video systems and heating control systems. These are compatible with Alexa Dot and Google Home and they can also be controlled by a carer remotely via an app. But these are expensive systems so extra thought required.