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In case of the persons who face problems in getting around places, in communicating with other persons or face problems in dealing with routine tasks, these days a number of assistive equipment are available that can help such persons in completing these tasks. In this way, an assistive technology can be defined as the technology that can help the elderly or the disabled persons in dealing with the activities which they were earlier able to do but as a result of their current medical condition, they find it difficult or are unable to do. Due to this reason, these tools or devices are also called "adaptive devices" (Craddock, 2003).
1.2 Analyze barriers to the use of technology to support users of health and social care services in living independently
It has been recognized by the experts that assistive technology can play an important role in improving the independence of elderly or the disabled people in taking care of their own medication or doing their everyday tasks. The use of assistive technology provides considerable help for these persons and moreover, such technology is available to these persons throughout the day. For example in the present case study, the condition in which Sally is, she can continue with her job as account executive in the organization by using the assistive technology. The vision impairment, from which Sally was suffering, was assisted by using an enlarged keyboard in order to ensure that Sally remains as productive as she was before. As a result, such help can drastically change the way in which a person works due to reason that such an assistive device has helped the Sally in continuing with her job and also allowed to drive her car.
Although, the assistive devices have so many benefits for the elderly and the disabled, at the same time, several limitations are also associated with the use of assistive devices. For example, it is not possible that such devices can be used in each and every situation. In the same way, there are certain social and technological barriers also present in the use of such devices (Hoyt, 2007). In the below mentioned discussion, the barriers that are present in the use of assistive devices have been discussed.
- Possibility of failure: Although, there are many assistive devices that have a very simple design, for example a walker, but there are certain other assistive devices that have complicated design and are difficult to operate. As a result of the complicated design, there are chances that a machine may fail. As a result, it acts as a limitation on the use of assistive technology. The reason is that it is not possible to rely with your life on such a machine.
- Battery operated: In case of a number of electronic devices that have been designed with a view to assist people suffering from disability, operate through a power source and as a result these devices use battery power. The result is that even after using long-lasting battery, there has to be some charging mechanism and moreover during the time when the device is being charged, it becomes unusable.
- Cost: while there are certain simple assistive devices due to which the healthcare process becomes less expensive. Again an example of the cost of reducing device can be given in the form of a walker that helps the elderly and the disabled in walking around and also to do their routine tasks. But there are certain other sophisticated devices which are too costly. In some cases, the family may be required to make monthly payments for such a device (Dharne, 2006).
1.3 Explain the benefits of these technologies to health and social care organizations and their users.
It is true in case of assistive technology that such technology as well as assistive devices have been designed particularly with the view to address the needs of the persons who are suffering from a disability. However these persons are not the only ones who are benefited by the use of such technology and devices. Significant benefits are also derived by the healthcare organizations from the invention of these devices. It also needs to be noted in this case that all the disabled persons who are in need of some assistive device are not in a position to afford it. At the same time, assistance cannot be provided by the social organizations to all the persons who specific need assistance and do not have an assistive device. In this way, the use of assistive devices offers a number of benefits to the social as well as the healthcare organizations.
- Easy availability of these devices: it is well known that the healthcare organizations are not in a position to provide nurses or personal staff to all the persons who require health care, in view of lack of proper funding or manpower. But at the same time, the low cost of assistive devices, it becomes easy for these organizations to take care of the needs of more people and also to provide such persons with the devices required by them. In such cases, the government also helps these products by imposing less or no taxes at all and also by offering subsidy to these organizations.
- Helping the process of recovery: In some cases, the disability suffered by a person could be a temporary one and therefore with regular practice of normal activities such disability can be fixed. Therefore in such cases, the assistive devices can play an important role in achieving quick recovery by the disabled people and these devices also speed up the process of recovery and the achievement of good health once again.
- Living normal life: any kind of disability can result in a significant difference between normal life and a life in which a person depends on the others for even doing routine tasks. After suffering from this type of a disability, such a person may not be in a position to work in the way in which he or she used to do or in some cases, the person may not be in a position to continue with his or her job. As a result, in such cases, an assistive device could play a significant role in fulfilling the needs of the user (Robitaille, 2010)
2.1 Describe health and safety considerations in the use of technologies in health and social care.
The patients as well as the social and health care organizations can derive significant health benefits from the assistive technologies. But at the same time, a number of disadvantages are also related with assistive technologies. For example, in some cases, a new assistive device could be very complicated and it may not be able to achieve well-established results can be feasibility tests. It has also been noted that a large number of studies related with assistive technology have been conducted two analyze the short term benefits of these devices. As a result there are only a small number of studies present regarding the long-term aspects related with the use of assistive devices. In the same way, the feasibility tests that have been conducted in this regard, have not proved to be very efficient. A number of health and safety aspects are present in this regard.
- Long-term effects of these devices: the purpose of assistive devices is to help the patients in performing their everyday tasks. These devices are also supposed to help the patients in keeping them independent. But in case of an injury it is also required that the long-term effects of the use of these devices on the health of the patients should be noticed.
- Interrupting the Process of Recovery: In case a person suffers an accident or other physical injury assistive devices are used with a view to help the patient in making a recovery. But at the same time, it is also important that the assistive devices should be introduced in a staged manner so that these devices can play an effective role in the recovery of the patient instead of interrupting the process. In some cases, these devices can result in a lack of will among the patients suffering from injury or trauma. This can have a negative impact on the process of recovery and as a result, it may take longer to achieve complete solution.
- Safety check: it is also require that the safety measures related with such devices should be of high standard. The reason is that a low-quality assistive device may cause injury or damage to the patients and at the same time, such a device may also result in an increase of the disability problem.
2.2 analyze ethical considerations that are present in the use of assistive technologies.
The use of computers and other high-end technology products in case of assistive devices have resulted in certain problems. As is the case with any big invention, while such assistive devices can be a good thing to a great extent, such a device may also be misused by certain persons in order to achieve unethical gains. It needs to be understood that this type of technology can have both types of effects (Sloan, 1996). Therefore while an assistive device can prove to be immensely helpful for a person, it may leave such a person vulnerable in case of certain other aspects. Most of the ethical risks that are related with the use of assistive devices cannot be seen clearly in the beginning but these effects become clear at a later stage while using the device. Some of the concerns related with assistive devices can be mentioned as follows:
Sometimes, assistive devices are used to monitor a disabled person or a person with medical condition. Therefore, while it provides fast assistance in case of an emergency, the privacy of such person is also breached. Similarly while the assistive devices allow a person to live independently, at the same time there are chances that such a device may support the cut back process from the society and in this way may promote less human contact. There is another concern that some people may use these devices for completing the tasks that they can complete even without the use of such a device. In this way, the problem may become even worse and the condition may become non-fixable.
2.3 Explain the impact of recent and emerging technological developments on health and social care services.
Assistive technologies are improving as the existing technologies improve and these technologies are also improved by the emerging technologies. For example, the technology used to help the blind users navigate the menus as any other technology. This type of technological developments allows the assistive technology to become more practical and efficient. An example in this regard can be given of the monitoring technologies that are continuously improving and the privacy concerns related with the use of monitoring technology are also reducing. Nowadays, healthcare devices have become more practical, reliable and long-lasting for being used in assistive devices (Schere, 2012).
There are numerous benefits associated with the use of assistive devices for healthcare and social organizations. This technology also helps in creating new business environment of concern and also in reducing or overcoming the burden of disabilities at the social care centers. For example if a large number of people face disability in walking perfectly, instead of providing nurses, the social care workers can provide walkers to these persons. This reduces the cost of healthcare in the social care center and it also reduces the need for manpower.