Technology to help more Calderdale people sat in their home as health deteriorates

It won’t replace the human touch, but technology is set to play an increasing role in helping people to stay in their own homes as their health deteriorates, says Calderdale Council.

Work being done to help more people stay in their homes
Work being done to help more people stay in their homes

Increasing sophistication means assistive technology can be used to support speech, hearing and sight, navigation, safe walking, memory and understanding for Calderdale citizens and support daily activities such as bathing, cooking and socialising.

Councillors heard such technology is now more sophisticated and has the potential to reduce the size of care packages as well as forming part of social care staff’s assessment tool kit to identify health and social care needs.

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Its role can be transformative but that said, it will not take the place of the human element, said Calderdale Council’s Head of Adult Services and Wedllbeing, Iain Baines.

“It will never replace person to person care, but for some people it will give them a level of freedom they have previously struggled with,” he said.

Chair of the council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board, Coun Howard Blagbrough, said the council had always used technology in care in the right sort of situations.

Assistant Director for adult social care operations, Sean Cook, said technology was used to support people becoming more independent, to give people the right support.

The council, with partners, could provide technology as a prescription or, for people who had complex needs, help them to have a life in a way they could not have had previously.

Currently, apart from charges for a community care alarm, all other assistive technology equipment is provided free of charge within Calderdale, although some services are funded by Disabled Facilities Grants which are means tested.

Councillors heard the council had first set up a small assistive technology team in 2010.

Initially products available were community care alarm and medication dispensers but as time has gone on the council has added to products used and it now has around 3,000 users of the service.

Health and care areas where technology is used include helping residents with dementia, those who are at risk from falls, those who have hearing or sight impairments, and people with learning disabilities, and in care settings or adaptions enabling citizens stay in their own homes and living independently for longer.

It ranges, for example, from simple warning alarms that alert people to callers to automated door openers and therapy lighting.

Challenges ahead include services becoming more digital – including addressing associated “digital poverty” – and ensuring they are financially stable in the face of likely increased demand in the coming years.

Councillors heard beyond technology the council is currently using are further solutions, some of which are being trialled across the borough.

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