Assistive Technology is improving lives across Warwickshire!
So far, thanks to the amazing work of our ‘superhero’ prescribers, the uptake and response is proving extremely positive, improving the wellbeing of customers and reducing care time required.
It follows on from a Statement of Intent made by Warwickshire County Council to give people in the county better access to Assistive Technology: equipment and services that can help them stay safe and healthy and to remain independent.
Two pilot projects have been run so far with great success, the first focused on improving hydration and helping to administer medication ~ addressing very current issues linked to dehydration and urinary tract infections that can impact adults with social care needs.
Older people can be particularly at risk of dehydration due to reduced thirst awareness, poor mobility to access drinks and the toilet, swallowing difficulties, their reliance on carers, medication, and their reduced ability to conserve water.
In the north of the county, the Reablement North team (our ‘Reablement Rangers’!) helped run a successful pilot which saw 29 products distributed to 22 people, including the ‘Ulla’ smart and simple hydration reminder, ‘Hand Steady Mug’ to stabilise drinking for a person experiencing tremors and ‘Memrabel 2’ day clock with reminders for daily tasks e.g. to have a drink.
It resulted in many successful examples of how Assistive Technology can be applied and its benefits to improve and maintain wellbeing and, in some cases, reduce the level support that may be required.
The second pilot, which has recently ended, focused on the use of Assistive Technology for people with cognition and memory difficulties. This pilot involved the Community Mental Health Memory Assessment team, Reablement South team, Dementia Care Navigators and Carers Trust, and the response was so phenomenal that the pilot time frame was extended.
The team prescribed 130 products to 76 people, including dementia day clocks; environmental labels; falls detectors; GPS phones; GPS insoles; GPS watches; talking photo albums; empathy dolls, reassurance robot cats and dogs . They became known as the ‘cognitive crusaders’.
Feedback about the Assistive Technology products is still being collated but is initially very good and dramatically highlights the need for further support and information for customers and adult social care providers and practitioners.
The following are case studies that have been developed from real customer feedback from the pilots:
“I have a gadget called a Memrabel 2 to remind me when to take my medication. It is a digital clock with a big display that tells me the time, the day of the week and whether it is morning, afternoon, evening or night. It is set up so an alarm goes off at different times of the day that tells me to “take my pills”! I can’t remember things as well as I used to, so this is really important for me.
“My Occupational Therapist had a brilliant idea, as I sometimes forgot when it was time for me to make my lunch and tea. She set up the Memrabel so it reminded me when to do this too! I am able to make food for myself ~ I just don’t always remember when I should be eating my meals. So this has been good for me, as I’m able to stay independent and look after myself, and not feel like I’m relying on someone all the time.”
“I need to take medicine three times a day and it used to always be down to my mum to remind me when to take it. I’m not always sure when I am supposed to be doing different things throughout the day, like getting out of bed and having a wash, so we’d been getting some help from the Reablement team.
“But now I have a Memrabel 2, which is a big clock with a clear display that tells me what time of the day it is. It reminds me when I need to take my pills, when to get up and look after myself. So I am now able to do more things on my own without my mum ~ and we’ve decided we don’t need support from Reablement anymore.”
“I have Parkinson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, which means I have a hand tremor and was struggling to drink tea. In fact, I had stopped, because every time I tried it would end up over my face and over my lap. I’m in my late 80s and ended up being admitted to hospital as I had giddiness due to dehydration and less of an appetite.
“My son lives with me and supports me with some of my meals, but I like to be as independent as possible. When I was home from hospital, my reablement assistant gave me an Ulla, which is a cup that ‘flashes’ to remind me to drink, and a ‘hand steady’ cup. I also bought a dispenser kettle, as I couldn’t pour my old kettle.
“I can now make and enjoy a cup of tea on my own! I’ve called my Ulla ‘Bertie’, and he definitely has increased the amount that I drink, so I’m confident I won’t get dehydrated again. I’ve told all my friends about it and my granddaughter, who has bought one for herself.
“It has changed my life – I don’t know what I would have done without it before.”
“My wife has the start of latter stage dementia and has complex needs ~ and I am her carer. I need to move her with a hoist to help care for her and get her out of bed into a chair. She often gets very agitated and can sometimes be aggressive when I try to handle her.
“It was suggested that we should try giving my wife an ‘empathy doll’, which is a soft toy doll that feels like, and is the size of, a baby. The doll has made such a difference in helping to reassure and comfort her when she is agitated, and has given her something to focus on and care for.
“We have named the doll and my wife likes to change its clothing and make sure ‘baby’ is kept warm. She is happier and it has meant that we have a much better relationship.”