Nothing should replace the human touch
Something I like about electric screwdrivers is that when the battery suddenly gives out, or they otherwise fail, one can always put it back in its case and finish whatever it was you were doing the old way – with a manual screwdriver and muscle power.
Something I dislike about computers and information technology in general is that when they fail, you’re buggered. Take publishing, which has depended on technology ever since William Caxton put town criers out of business. These days, when your Macintosh crashes, there is no option to go back to the older methods of hot metal typesetting and linotype machines; the hardware doesn’t exist outside museums and the skills have been lost.
It is the loss of skills that worries me most when I think about technology and care (both kinds; health and social). The last time I was in hospital a nurse took my temperature by pointing a penlike heat sensor at my forehead. She didn’t even feel my pulse. Which is all very well; it saves a lot of time and is probably just as accurate, or more so, and less risk-laden than the old mercury thermometers.
But the minute or so it took for a mercury thermometer to register was a golden time in which the nurse could observe her patient; their responsiveness, their complexion, their breathing and yes, the volume and character of their pulse. So the minute saved is in fact a very important minute which has fallen victim to technology.
Certainly let us use technology to enhance the care of older people, and to alert us to when they may need extra support. But let us forever be on our guard against technology coming between carer and cared-for and eliminating the human touch.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.