Innovation and Efficiency

04.03.19

Cornwall Council's technology-enabled care

Source: PSE Feb/March 2019

Cllr Rob Rotchell, cabinet member for adult social care at Cornwall Council, tells us how his council is addressing the challenges of adult care and support through its technology-enabled care programme.

The upcoming year will continue to bring major challenges for health and adult social care in the UK. In Cornwall, we aim to create a sustainable and prosperous place that is resilient and resourceful, where communities are strong and the most vulnerable are protected.

The issues around the funding of adult social care have been well documented over the past few years – and Cornwall is no exception.

Despite the financial challenges, there is a real need for residents to have more choice and control and to live as independently as possible. We have had to think differently about how people can be supported to live more healthily and safely while maximising their independence.

To tackle this, we have recognised the factors that will help us to achieve this. This includes challenging traditional approaches to care and support for staff and the wider public, as well as examining the internal working practices within the care and health system.

A qualitative trial has been taking place in Cornwall over the past year which has looked at, in most cases, quite simple pieces of technology that have supported individuals to live at home for longer.

The trials have been successful, with the first-hand accounts of those involved a testament to the difference they have made to people’s lives. The trials have been based on areas of need in Cornwall which are:

  • Falls;
  • Dehydration;
  • Frailty/dementia;
  • Social isolation;
  • Safeguarding and risk management;
  • Transitions (Moving from Children’s to Adult Social Care).

Taking time out from busy working days to learn about new technologies can be a challenge.  At a recent event, healthcare staff and care providers showed a great interest in current technology, as well as being able to look ahead to what could be possible in the future  – such as robots and artificial intelligence.

The event was very well received and helped attendees to envision the scope of care in the future. It was plain to see how excited they were at the prospect of this technology being available to help people maintain their independence.  The fruits of our efforts are beginning to pay off with recent media interest in how technology is helping. These stories highlight the way people’s lives have been transformed and have so far covered:

  • A GPS tracker that has supported someone with Alzheimer’s to live in their own home, so far avoiding an unwanted move to residential care;
  • The use of an online platform with access to a range of exercises that has helped someone to get back on their feet and exercise again after a prolonged spell in hospital;
  • Passive monitoring to support a man with COPD, which is used to detect his activity at home and can send an alert out to a loved one or neighbour when something out of the ordinary happens.

The hands-on involvement of project staff has been integral to success seen so far, with carers fully-engaged and supportive throughout the process.

The trials are now feeding into the planning of Cornwall Council’s Technology-Enabled Care (TEC) strategy. The strategy will utilise, support, and empower a confident, skilled, and knowledgeable local workforce to creatively offer TEC to help people in Cornwall achieve what matters to them.

 

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