Leeds Becket University was the venue for a Digital Innovation in Care Homes event in partnership with Leeds City Council to showcase good practice and new digital innovations in care homes.
To the delight of the organisers and speakers, and in spite of the summer holidays, it was standing room only due to the rising awareness and acceptance that the integration of technology in care homes is not only inevitable but much needed.
The roster of speakers was impressive kicking off with Cllr James Lewis, Executive Member for Resources and Sustainability for Leeds; Lorraine Jackson, Deputy Director at NHS X; Mick Ward, Chief Officer, Transformation and Innovation – Adults and Health, Leeds City Council; TSA’s CEO Alyson Scurfield; Dylan Roberts, Chief Digital and Information Officer in Leeds and Dorothy Monekosso, Professor of Computer Science, Leeds Beckett University and founder of the Digital Health & Assistive Technology Research and Innovation Hub.
Jackson explained that the 'X' in NHSX stood for user experience and everything they planned to do would have the service user at the heart of that development and it was important for the NHS to be “open to industry, open to tech and open to what people need.”
There was much talk of governance and standards, that they provided longevity to those tech products and services that were certified and they subsequently supported commissioners with the procurement of those products and services for the ultimate safety of the end user.
There was a commitment to give people more access to mHealth (apps) and better information sharing for improved care, especially in care homes, despite the recognition that there had been some problems with NHS secure mail.
Mick Ward talked about some of Leed’s health tech initiatives with wearables (ACTIVAGE), apps (Carers App, Careview) and revealed there are ways to secure the data of care home residents in reference to cyber security. We heard from Dorothy Monekosso about her team’s research in digital tech around fraily/falls, smart homes, using AI and gait analysis for falls prevention, remote rehab for stroke victims, triage tools for dementia and KTP – sensor based behaviour analytics in care homes - and demonstrated a virtual physiotherapist service that allows for remote consultations using a two-way web interface and motion sensors for tracking movements of the patient.
TSA’s Alyson Scurfield emphasised the outcome and bespoke based approach tech should be, designed around the end user and reassured that if tech is “embedded properly and holistically into the care home - rather than being simply a bolt on - it can ultimately produce cost savings as it helps with streamlining of processes.” This was followed by the screening of Alice in TEC Stories which clearly demonstrated the benefits of technology in allowing the elderly to stay in touch with family and friends alleviating disconnection. Alyson’s message circled round to the importance of empowering care home staff - in their procurement journey - tapping into the support from standards such as TEC Quality that guarantees best practice and continuous improvement in digital products and services countrywide.
The headline speakers were followed with an afternoon of workshops providing a forum to share and address any issues and challenges. There was a unified feeling among participants that this was very much the beginning of an exciting journey in digitising care in care homes and that events like these will become more frequent and prominent in the care home calendar.