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Everyday technology

There are lots of ways to use everyday technology to make your life easier and to support the person you care for.

Here are some ideas:

Get your shopping done

Shopping for you and/or the person you support can be time consuming. Shopping for someone else on top of your own shopping can also take its toll on your health if you have to carry heavy grocery bags. Avoid queues, wonky-wheeled trolleys, carrying heavy bags and control how much you spend simply by sitting at your computer with a cup of tea and ordering your weekly shopping. All the major supermarkets offer delivery for online orders and lots of smaller independent retailers are getting in on the act too. You can also often set up a standard online shopping list which you start with for each shop – so you don’t need to spend time adding all the basics every time you do a new shop.

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Manage finances online

Managing your finances and/or the finances of the person you look after online can save significant time by allowing you to bypass bank lines. You can conduct your banking transactions safely and securely without leaving the comfort of your home. Online banking gives you around the clock access to all your accounts and statements and you can monitor your transactions and balance. You can also pay your bills or the bills of the person you support electronically. You can schedule a single payment or you can set up recurring payments and you can see when your payment will arrive.

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Deal with the doctors and get your patient record online

You can now get online services, including your own patient summary record. If you get signed up to online services via your GP practice, then you can book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and see some of your patient record such as allergies, medication and test results. In some areas, patient records show much more. Every surgery offers these basic services, so ask how you can get yours. We’ve got more information here.

In some areas technology is even being used for remote consultations carried out using email or webcam, reducing the need for GP or hospital visits.

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Get calendar wise

Use group emails or shared group calendars to coordinate care with other people in your family or network – this way everyone can be kept in the loop in one go, rather than having to contact different people individually. Services like Google, Yahoo and iCal are free to use.

Alternatively you can use more sophisticated care coordination tools which also include features like ‘to do’ lists and essential contacts. Carers UK has developed its very own care co-ordination app, Jointly, which will help make caring just that little bit easier. Click here to find out more.

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Bring the family closer

These days many families are scattered around the country. Use free services like Skype to video-call your relatives, or use FaceTime if you have an Apple device. Face to face contact - even at a distance - can feel more personal than a phone call. As a carer you can discuss appointments and plan care with other family members, even having several people on screen at once for conference call. Or the person you care for could use it to stay connected with family and friends that don’t live so close.

“Applications such as Skype have made a lot of difference …absolutely transformative, now mum can talk to family and friends. She talks to her grandchildren and my brother who live abroad. She feels wonderful after that and it makes a huge difference in her day.” 

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Connect with other carers

If it feels like no one understands what you’re going through it can be reassuring to know there are thousands more out there who do.

Join Carers UK’s online forum so you can get support, share advice, rant or moan, laugh or cry with others who understand – it’s free to all our members. Use social media like Facebook and Twitter to connect with others who know what you’re going through. And some workplaces now offer ‘virtual’ networks to support their employees who are caring, providing information but also an opportunity to share experiences and offer support.

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Online training

Online training or courses can be ideal for busy carers who are unable to get out of the home. Carers Try over 600 free online learning courses from the Open University or visit Coursera to access a lot of free training from top providers on a variety of subjects.

Youtube is a great source of “How to” videos that can provide useful information on how to move and handle patients, how to lift heavy objects, etc.

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Get some gizmos and gadgets

The world is full of amazing gizmos to make life easier, many of which have been designed with disability or age in mind.

In addition to home adaptations like grab rails and hoists, kitchen gadgets like ringpull openers, two-handled cups, tap turners and kettle tippers can make life easier. Riser recliner chairs can offer comfort and central heating control systems can make it easier to control your heat - and your bills! See more in our section on equipment.

Gizmos and gadgets can also be powered by technology – smoke and gas detectors, alarms and sensors are now familiar in health and care, but today we also have wearable technology that discreetly gives reassurance at home or when people are out and about. From simple mobile apps to complex sensor systems, there are already many products available to make life a little easier. See more in our section on technology.

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