New technology helps disabled people become more independent

Assistive technology: Project team Dr Tom Davis, Adam Willison, Adrian Timon

Assistive technology: Project team Dr Tom Davis, Adam Willison, Adrian Timon

Modern technology is being used to help people with a learning disability to cook a meal for the first time ever in an innovative pilot scheme being run in Bucks.

Specially-adapted computers have been set up to give visual and audio prompts to support people step by step through the cookery process, from beginning to end.

The scheme, which runs across the county, has been jointly co-ordinated by Buckinghamshire County Council and colleagues in the NHS.

The early results of these trials and other similar projects based on modern technology show the initiatives have so far been well received.

Amy Moore, joint commissioning manager in Bucks said: “Individuals with autism, for example, may still live with their families but want to live independently within their communities.

“This type of technology is seen as one way of helping reduce their family’s anxiety that they are going to be able to prepare a healthy meal by themselves.”

Adam Willison, joint commissioning manager in Bucks said: “We have received lots of feedback on how these types of projects have helped to transform family life, reduce stress and enable the service user to be more independent.”

The systems can help give individuals the confidence to perform everyday tasks on their own, such as brushing their teeth.

The technology used in each case is tailored to the individual’s needs and can range from a large screen computer, to a notepad system or even a mobile phone.

Another system also being trialled uses a smartphone and route planning service to enable service users to use public transport on their own.

Mr Willison said: “The interactive route planner can help individuals to take public transport to access their wider community, particularly if they live in a rural area.

“They may wish to visit their local town or perhaps access work.

“There are many potential opportunities.

“This is a multi-agency project which works with service users in the 16 to 24 age group that are likely to be leaving education and wanting to move into independent adulthood.”

The smartphone system has several advantages, including a facility that can send a text message back to carers when the service user reaches their destination or travels too far from the beaten track.

Only a handful of people are currently involved in this trial.

But once the project has concluded, Mr Willison hopes this technology could be accessed by many more service users across the county.

The assistive technology team already provides a variety of technology services to approximately 4,000 people in Bucks, including the now more traditional devices such as panic buttons.

Councillor Patricia Birchley, cabinet member for health and wellbeing said: “This work forms part of our prevention agenda and demonstrates the commitment of the Health and Wellbeing Board to support innovation.

“If we don’t work in partnership with providers and service users to trial these new forms of care delivery, many people could well end up in earlier receipt of more traditional forms of care such as residential or nursing.

“We want to help service users gain independence and dignity of living the lives that they want.”




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