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Telecare - the ethical debate


Telecare offers a range of benefits for individual users, including safety and independence. However telecare also has the potential to threaten users’ privacy, autonomy and control and could leave them socially isolated. The film explains some of these ethical concerns and offers practical advice about overcoming them and ensuring service users gain the maximum benefit offered by telecare technology.

Practice points

  1. Telecare offers potential benefits for individual users, including safety and independence. However telecare also has the potential to threaten individual users’ privacy, autonomy and control.
  2. Social care and health professionals need to consider a range of ethical issues when supporting an individual in deciding whether to use telecare. These issues need to be considered not only before but also during and after the installation of a telecare service.
  3. Commissioners must ensure that people who are self funders or personal budget holders have access to relevant information so they can decide what type of telecare service would best suit their needs.
  4. Service providers must have robust systems and agreements in place for the collection storage and sharing of data.
  5. Equipment manufacturers are urged to improve the sophistication of technology to reduce the stigmatising effect of certain types of telecare (e.g. personal alarms). Manufacturers are also urged to improve flexibility in the means of communication between monitoring centres and telecare users.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Marc Evans

    I completely dislike the idea of "telecare". I am in my final year of study and throughout my training it has been pushed into us about communication and patient interaction being the key to excellent Nursing care. If we begin to rely on technology to allow us to interact with our patients then the Nursing profession will be ruined. I completely agree with the video, if telecare becomes more common then more and more patients will become isolated. Look at care in the community, some patients have not got family, they are own their own for the majority of the time. The only real interaction for them is when the Nurse or healthcare practioner steps through their door. These patients need a friendly face and face-to-face interaction to let them know they are not on their own. All this news about trialing video conferencing to patients homes and calling patients instead of visiting them, I think is degrading to the Nursing profession.

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  • Telecare is the provision of care 'on the cheap.'
    It's attractive because it's doesn't cost much and the people employed to run it aren't qualified.

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