I first met Angie Carter when she gave a presentation at the Later Life conference in London in 2011. I was impressed by her outcomes-focused, person-centred approach towards the use of assistive technology. For Day 12 of our series of ‘walk in my shoes’ blogposts, looking at dementia from different perspectives, Angie explains how appropriate use of assistive technology can help people with dementia maintain independence…
Assisted Living Technologies (Assistive Technologies -AT) are now seen as an important way forward in supporting individuals to remain in their own home; promoting independence and carer support whilst reducing admissions to hospital and long term care. The Government is aiming to support 3 million people with Telecare and Telehealth technologies of the next 5 years. In January this year, alongside the technology industry, it launched its 3 Million Lives Concordat www.3millionlives.co.uk . In the past week, there has also been an announcement about the DALLAS programme – Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles AT Scale – and the four communities (projects) that are to be developed over the next 2 years with £37m of funding. www.innovateuk.org/content/featured-items/37m-programme-to-improve-quality-of-life-for-older.ashx
Much of the drive for this is around the potential to provide care and support more efficiently. With an ageing population and related increase in health and social care needs– technology certainly has an important role to play. But if it doesn’t meaningfully fit into everyday life – there will be a struggle to realise these benefits.
It may come as a surprise, given my background but I am not very technological. Like the majority of people I get I use the usual gadgets I have a home and rely on my 9-year-old daughter, to show me more interesting and effective ways to use my computer and I-phone.
My passion for AT stems from my work as an Occupational Therapist, wanting to do more, to support people with dementia and their families. I have always strived to enable quality of life around the complexities of this condition and I am very clear that individuals and carers can be afforded a greater sense of well being, if the right approach, support and solutions can be found and that can include technology.
A key challenge to introducing technology is for services to understand – how to enable choice and control regarding all the solutions people wish to welcome into their lives and in particular, technology. It is easy to see a solution and assume it will “do the job” but the chance of it being successful is reduced, if we don’t understand the outcomes a person truly needs; their circumstances and the small things that make a difference to something being accepted or not.
In developing Wirral’s award winning AT service, it was always key that the service should be person centred and outcome focused i.e.it should seek to understand the solutions a person requires and how technology could enable them. It is also important to consider how it is installed– urgently, as required or on a very carefully planned basis. By the time I left in May last year, the service was providing 150-200 new installations every month – all tailored to meet a variety of personalised needs to adults over the age of 18 and with wide variety of health and social needs.. There were very few people sending it back, and a high level of satisfaction.
In my shoes now, my company is working with organisations to help them understand and embed a personalised approach, as satisfaction by us, the public will be key to the success of “3 Million Lives”.
Here in my shoes -one of my future aspirations?……
People with dementia supported to maintain their independence as much as possible, each step of the way. Personally tailored technology and simple adaptations that support an individual’s memory function, safety and skills – with links to flexible, person centred services – providing responsive support to individuals and carers, when they really need it. With the introduction of personalisation and assistive technology, this vision just could become a reality.Angie is Managing Director of Angie Carter Consultancy – Assistive Technology Solutions Made Real – a specialist Occupational Therapist in Assistive Technology and personalisation. (Previously Strategic Development Manager for the largest investment in Telecare, in England- 2010/11- Wirral Assistive Technology Service)