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Research Reveals the Benefits to Social Care of Assistive Technology at Home
Published: 1st October 2021, 2:27pm
Research Reveals the Benefits to Social Care of Assistive Technology at Home A new research project is investigating how affordable home technology could be used to enhance social care and improve the lives of almost 12,000 adults in Lincolnshire.

The ‘Social Care Technology Innovation for the Citizens of Lincolnshire' project, conducted by the University of Lincoln, Lincolnshire County Council and Serco has been running since June this year. Early findings indicate that introducing assistive technology at home could help change the lives of vulnerable adults who might otherwise feel excluded or isolated.

Lincolnshire County Council currently supports 8,905 people who need some form of long-term help, with resources being divided to cover mental health, learning disabilities, memory and cognition, and physical and social support.

Now, encouraged by COVID-19 lockdowns and the wider acceptance and use of technology in the home, the University-led project is highlighting how home tech could transform adult social care within the community.

Examples include access to ‘telecare' - a monitoring service offering remote support to elderly, disabled and vulnerable people living at home alone, providing individuals with somebody to call for help if they suffer a fall, feel unwell or need reassurance.

Research suggests that people are already actively using Echo and Alexa-enabled devices for tasks like medicine reminders, directly connecting to local authority services, general household appliance controls, and food delivery.

The project has also explored how remote monitoring, such as unobtrusive movement sensors, can oversee a person's activity at home and help relatives or community services assess if they require more assistance.

Researchers stress that a careful balance is needed between technological advancements and hands-on care, meaning any devices must be supplemental and should not fully replace a physical carer's role.

Dr Salah Al-Majeed, Acting Head of the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln, said: "Technology offers increasingly potential for new methods of diagnosing, detecting and monitoring warning signs in vulnerable adults, and can also serve to connect friends, families, carers and communities within a wider web of support.

"We are completely appreciative of the fact that technology can't do everything – it can't put you to bed, clean you or give you a hug, but it can do other things which then allows the most valuable resource – social workers, occupational therapists, carers – to do other things for you that are also hugely important."

Those receiving council support and individuals working in Lincolnshire's care services can contribute to the projects ongoing surveys, which ask questions about people's use, thoughts and opinions on technological support in adult social care, here: https://lincoln.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/carers-questionnaire    

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