The Future of Senior Care: Using Technology to bridge Care Gaps

Canada’s healthcare crisis can no longer be ignored. As the system struggles under the weight of an aging population and inadequate resources, innovative solutions are urgently needed. A survey by the Canadian Medical Association finds 58% of Canadians have to delay their retirement to afford their healthcare and 62% of the population express negative emotions about the future of healthcare. These numbers expose the universal healthcare system’s inability to meet current demands.

Tuktu photo of woman on the app on her phone.

Care gaps in Canada are not limited to primary healthcare; lack of sufficient support leaves nearly one fifth (19%) of Canada’s population – aged 65 and above – struggling. As an increasingly aging population, Canada needs to look at becoming an age-prepared and elder-friendly society. The changing demographic will reflect significant changes to the labor market, services for seniors and the consumption of goods and services. There will be an increased demand for elder care both in health care and home care settings. However, homecare services are not are not publicly insured through Canada Health Act. Seeing as the government continues to tackle lack of access to primary healthcare, how can this ancillary care gap be addressed?

With age, many Canadians – who can afford it – opt to live in assisted living or gated seniors communities. Others with more serious health concerns move into long-term care homes. This leaves a large section of people who have some disposable income but not enough afford gated communities or those who do not want to move into assisted living. The fact is that 78% of Canadians would prefer to age in place but only 26% predict they will be able to do so. In addition, 46% of Canadians are not confident in being able to get home care services they expect to need as they get older. This means nearly half the population is unsure of their ability to live independently as they age.

Although concerning, Canadians do not have to lose hope of aging at home. From recent developments, the answer to bridging this care gap may just lie in technology. As a person gets older, besides pressing health concerns, daily living becomes more difficult. Older adults face issues with mobility, vision and hearing. Through custodial ancillary care, people can remain independent in daily living even if they face age-related health problems. The difficulty people often encounter is not having access to providers to providers of ancillary home care. It is here technology steps in.

Take for example May and her seventy-year-old mother, Lily. When Lily began struggling with grocery shopping, May felt worried and helpless. The once-active woman was now facing the challenges of aging, and May knew she had to find a solution that would allow Lily to live an independent and wholesome life. That’s when she discovered Tuktu Care. They are a platform which connects providers to seniors and their families, like an Uber for home care.

With Tuktu’s personalized provider recommendations, carefully tailored to Lily’s unique needs, May found an ideal personal shopper. The chosen provider spoke Lily’s mother tongue, allowing her to communicate with ease and comfort, building a sense of familiarity and connection. Tuktu’s providers brought not just groceries, but also peace of mind for May. No longer did she have to worry about her mother’s meals or the struggle to obtain household essentials. Daily living activities often become increasingly difficult, leading to isolation and frustration. Tuktu ensured that Lily was cared for, respected, and able to enjoy her older years independently.

With Tuktu, essential healthcare appointments also become easier. Charles, an eighty-one-year-old widower with no children, had knee surgery and needed assistance post-operation. Knowing he had no one to reliably drive him home after the procedure, his health team recommended Tuktu’s mobility assistants. Based on his location and care needs Charles was matched with Katie through their app. She could pick him up, help with picking prescription medication and mobility aids before settling him in at home. Using the app meant Charles had seamless communication with his provider. Over the following months whenever Charles had a follow-up appointment, he was able to request a service to drive him to and from the appointment, offering emotional support, transforming a challenging recovery into a manageable experience.

With Tuktu, seniors or their families can book home care services. It is on-demand with no contracts involved. As Tuktu Care does not require clients to book a set number of hours, people with smaller budgets are able to access services and support when they would like to. Care services Tuktu provides include personal shopping, gardening, meal preparation, drives to appointments, housekeeping and more specialised services for people with dementia and post-hospitalisation recovery. Home care services aid seniors at home, provide social interaction, thereby reducing isolation and improving mental health.

Tuktu’s services are not unlike the ones offered by traditional home agencies. What Tuktu Care does is it marries the convenience of technology and home care. Tuktu Care has an app through which families of older adults sitting in a different province or country can still be able to book help for their parents. Tuktu uses technology to match clients to providers, communications and personalized feedback.

Komal Makkad, the Head of Marketing and Partnerships, states the commitment to senior care, “Our services aim to provide a complementary solution by offering accessible, personalized care for families, potentially reducing non-emergency visits to hospitals.”

Through advanced AI technology, Tuktu matches its clients to providers. For example, if the profile for your father says he speaks Polish, enjoys golfing and baked salmon and you are looking for a companion for him, Tuktu’s AI will match him with a Polish speaking golf fan from the pool of providers. Of course the matching is based entirely on what information is provided on customer and provider profiles, with enough details the ideal senior-provider match can be found. Tuktu also uses technology to communicate with providers and clients. It sends automated reminders of upcoming appointments, reminders to start and finish services. The last and possibly the most innovative use of software at Tuktu is for feedback. If you want to know how the companionship service for your father went, you can ask Tuktu’s software. Based on specific information logged in by the provider, the software can decipher how the appointment went. It can tell you whether your father was perhaps feeling a bit down that day or maybe he was particularly jovial. Based on this feedback you can decide what type of service he needs in the future or maybe chat with him to see how he is doing. Through these methods the care loop for seniors becomes more optimal and efficient.

Challenges faced in providing care for Canada’s aging population are many. Innovative healthcare technology like Tuktu Care offers a glimpse into how technology can be used to bridge the care gap. By using technology to connect caregivers to those in need, Tuktu provides convenience while personalising care in a way traditional care agencies are unable to. As the Canadian population ages, it is imperative to adopt such tech-driven solutions into care systems to make Canada an elder-friendly nation.

 

 

 

About Joel Levy 2601 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography