Writing in The Carer magazine, Adrian Smith has explored how 5G technology will enhance care homes in the future.

As care providers, we are acutely aware that current ways of working are becoming increasingly unsustainable unless we can increase capacity and re-distribute the burden of care away from care homes, clinics and hospitals for a more managed at home or community care solution.  

 However, what’s reassuring, is that many of the solutions that might have the potential to build a more resilient future already exist and are being trialed, with ideas and the development of technologies being vastly accelerated as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.  

 We are at the cusp of the care industry breaking into the world of smart connected technologies. When implemented at scale, these solutions will vastly improve capacity amongst staff, and safety and continuity of care for patients.  

In the West Midlands the UK’s first region-wide testbed for 5G technologies – WM5G – has enabled care providers, the NHS, clinical commissioning groups, local businesses and mobile network providers to join forces. The ambition is to prove the benefits of 5G technology and find workable solutions ready for implementation at scale. 

One such project took place during the early parts of the pandemic where five care homes in the region formed part of a trial to establish 5G’s role in enabling remote diagnostics, GP examinations and ward rounds. 

The 5G enabled diagnostic tool used permitted GPs to conduct a full patient check-up, capturing all the information that would normally be captured in an in-person examination. This is achieved using a device capturing patient data through a mixture of high-resolution photography, video, readings from a thermometer or otoscope (a medical device used to look in the ear) as well as a portable ECG and spirometry (lung function). 

5G may appear like a small change to connectivity but will ultimately play a major part in allowing people to live independently at home for longer, stay in better health and remain connected to expert care. 

Click here to read the full article on page 24