For too long, decisions around care technology have been made for individuals, rather than with them. This means that some digital products and services are based on what companies or councils think people and their families need, not what their true dreams and aspirations are.
As a result, technology enabled care hasn’t always delivered the personalised benefits people want, and it doesn’t always make the best use of resources to build stronger, more resilient communities.
Genuine co-production can change this. Having meaningful conversations with people, relatives and carers about what they want from life and the types of care, support and housing that will enable this (without restricting solutions to formal services or traditional kit) is invaluable.
I’m involved with a new alliance that will facilitate those conversations in the technology enabled care (TEC) sector. The TEC Action Alliance has been set up by Think Local Action Personal (TLAP), a partnership dedicated to making health and care more personalised, and the TEC Services Association (TSA), the body representing technology enabled care services across the UK.
Together, we are determined to put co-production front and centre of the future development of care technology, whether that’s new, digitally-enabled social care services, innovative software or smart home systems.
That doesn’t mean involving people at the end, in user-testing. It’s about including individuals who might use a digital service or device right from the start, so they shape the design as equal partners.
The TEC Action Alliance will make this happen by joining up organisations who don’t normally work with each other – from the private, public and third sectors – and putting the voice of people who draw on social care at the heart of every conversation.
For me, that’s all about building trust between individuals, families, suppliers, commissioners and practitioners, so we’re all respected as experts working towards a single goal: supporting people to live in the place they call home, with the people they love, doing the things that matter to them.
This alliance is all about action to realise that goal. We’ll be reaching out to people from diverse communities, speaking to leaders from a wide range of industries and working closely with government, demonstrating how we can help them deliver on different policy priorities.
Helping us to convene these partnerships is our director, Jeremy Hughes CBE, former CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society who established the National Dementia Action Alliance back in 2009. This pioneering initiative was key to achieving a decade of focused national action on dementia by government, the NHS and social care providers.
My fellow co-chair, Alyson Scurfield, CEO of the TEC Services Association, has helped to build and strengthen the TEC Action Alliance, linking it with industry, local government, health, housing and care. Crucially, our corporate partners - CareTech, Home Instead, LeGrand Care, Lilli, Microsoft, PA, Taking Care, Tunstall, and Verizon - and our founding members from the public and third sectors all recognise that technology is not the driver here, it’s the enabler.
Digital solutions won’t ever replace human contact or human touch. Instead, devices can do the mundane stuff – the reminders, the admin and the monitoring, allowing more time for those wonderful connections, relationships and passions that make us human.
Join with us in this alliance so we can harness the potential of technology to enable these important human interactions and give people control of their own lives.
To find out more about the TEC Action Alliance, contact its Director at: Jeremy.Hughes@tsa-voice.org.uk