For the sake of the elderly, not the innovations

I travel throughout the Netherlands on a daily basis to install health care innovations for the benefit of the elderly and chronically ill. I do this together with more than thirty of my coworkers. We hear unique, funny, and beautiful stories, but we are also sometimes confronted with heartbreaking situations. In this blog I describe a few of my experiences in the field.

As soon as I hear about the situations that the elderly have to deal with, I can't help feeling like I want to do something to help them. I got this from my father, who worked as an installer at the health care organization ZuidZorg. I got interested in this field because of all his experiences.

I wanted to be like my dad and take away some of the worries that this group has to go through and make their daily circumstances a little easier. My goal is to help people like the elderly and people with disabilities by offering health care solutions that really make a difference to their lives.

These kinds of devices support people so that they can have better lives and continue to live independently at home for longer. I know that what I do has an effect because of what I hear from the clients themselves. In the beginning they are reluctant to accept the situation and afterwards they see that it's not so bad.

"I can't work with that thing."

"They can use modern technology to get in touch with health care providers, children, and acquaintances."

I often hear elderly people say things during installations like, "I can't work with that thing. When I see the kids using that, they look like they've been doing it for years."

I really enjoy responding that they'll be able to use it easily too. I explain things really simply, remove their insecurities, and make everything sound positive. That way I create a positive environment for the elderly to try to work with new technology.

In the final phase of the explanation, I see their attitude about it change. A whole new world opens up for them. They can use modern technology to get in touch with health care providers, children, and acquaintances. And that is very beneficial for elderly persons.

Who will come if something goes wrong?

Recently I was talking with a woman who said she was worried about what exactly would happen if something went wrong. She had difficulties getting around and she was very lonely. Her children are all grown and live very far away, and her family is not always able to stop by.

The instant I came in she started regaling me with stories about everything she had to go through. At times like that it's to my benefit to let the client talk about their experiences. That releases some of the emotion and worries they deal with. I respond to that by making sure that the alarm is properly hooked up and by saying that they no longer have to worry about no one being there.

After my explanation of how the alarm worked, she was very relieved and happy. She feels secure that no matter what, she can push the button and rely on the fact that help will arrive.

Difficult situations are part of the job

"Sometimes I find myself in a situation that is worrisome even for me."

Sometimes I find myself in a situation that is worrisome even for me, where I wonder if I really did the right thing.

For instance, I once went to the home of a man in a wheelchair. He said, "Just come inside and do whatever you need to do." I asked him if he had a SIM card I could use for the iPad installation. He got a little upset and said, "I don't know, I don't know." I told him not to worry and said I would call the helpline to find out about a solution.

But just at that moment, I put my own iPad down on a drawing that he had just made, and he got very angry.

Later I found out that he couldn't help his reaction because of his disability. But at that moment, I had to deal with the negativity I felt. I deal with these kinds of situations by responding actively to them, by making sure that the client is comfortable, and by finding an immediate solution. If the situation really calls for it, it's always possible to bring in a third person, such as a health care provider, to defuse things. Then it is possible to set up the health care solution, and as a result of that the client relaxes.

eHealth makes it possible to live independently at home for longer

"A lot of times the little things we have to think about are really important."

The situations described are all examples that my fellow installers will recognize. A lot of times the little things we have to think about are really important. My advice would be to help elderly clients the way you would treat your own parents and the way you would want someone to treat you when you have reached that age.

We also see every day that the eHealth applications are really necessary. Particularly in the case of people who are prone to falling, a cAlarm is necessary to make sure that they don't spend hours lying on the ground. Or people who often forget to take their medicine feel better by using a cMed. And people who get lonely or who are unsure whether they are able to keep track of everything have more control over their lives when they can use an iPad for distance care.

I find it hugely motivating to do this work. It happens every day that when I've been to a client's house and when I'm just about to leave, I see that they feel relaxed and happy. They're glad I've done my job. That's why I do it!

I've worked as an installer at FocusCura since 2014. I install eHealth solutions like cAlarm, iPads for distance care, and cMed. These health care applications enable the elderly and the chronically ill to maintain control over their own lives and remove a bit of the uncertainty they feel. It's my goal to eliminate some of the worry for these target groups. That's why I do this work!