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New technology could support Oxfordshire residents with additional needs

New technology is being trialled by Oxfordshire County Council that seeks to help people with additional health needs and in need of support with tasks like remembering to take medication at the right time or even to open and close curtains remotely.

The assistive technology team at the county council looks at various technology and how it can be used by people with differing or evolving needs, including learning disabilities, sensory impairments, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, MS and more.

Councillor Jenny Hannaby, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Supporting residents to live independently and in their own homes for as long as it is safe to do so is a top priority for us. The work of our assistive technology team is imperative to this, and significantly enhances the lives, wellbeing and safety of many with additional needs. I’m extremely pleased to hear the team is currently testing new options and look forward to hearing more about the support our residents can receive.”

Michelle House, Practice Supervisor of the Assistive Technology Team, said: “Technology can be very effective in helping people remain safe and independent.  It’s really important that we consider new technologies so that we can offer people choice in how they are supported and get the right technology for the individual.

“For example, someone who is diagnosed with dementia may need some help in remembering appointments – using a smart phone to download an app to help them with this might work for one person, while another might prefer to use a digital calendar with audible reminders.”

Technology currently undergoing trials includes:

  • Automatic curtain openers. This can be used using a remote control, smart phone, timer or voice activation, and can by fitted to most types of existing curtains. These are useful for people who are unable to open or close their own curtains, perhaps due to a physical disability. It would provide them with greater control over their home, increased privacy and help them to feel safer.
  •  Buddi Connect. This is a wrist sensor linked to a smartphone that can alert others if the wearer has fallen and pressed a button to request help. This would support people who are worried about falling outside and reassure them that help can be called for quickly and their location known.
  •  TabTime timer. This is a watch which discreetly reminds the wearer to take medications through a vibrating alarm. It is particularly useful for people who may forget or miss the timings of their medication.

When trialling new technology, the assistive technology team carefully reviews the capabilities of an item, safety, ease of use, costs and what value it might bring to someone.

The team work closely with support partners across Oxfordshire, and others within the county council’s adult social care support team, to ensure eligible residents can gain information about technology might help them. Some assistive technology is available on a trial, loan or permanent basis depending on an individual’s needs, or information will be given on how people can purchase it for themselves.

 To find out more about assistive technology and who is eligible for the support, visit Oxfordshire County Council’s website.

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