Seminar for Occupational Therapists – Assistive Technology

OTs and Assistive Technology

Over the last few months I have been working with Ann Gould, Occupational Therapist from the Tansor Assessment Centre, and Caroline Hayden-Wright, who runs her own business CamTrain providing bespoke training for health, social care, charitable, and commercial organisations.  We came together to run our very first Seminar for Occupational Therapists, held at the Tansor Assessment Centre in Peterborough to a small group of OTs on 1st November.

We invited Jane Crawford-White, Clinical Systems Programme Lead at Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, who gave an excellent talk about Assistive Technologies, what an amazing insight.

I gave a short talk on how best to maintain your CPD folder, how to record your activities within your niche, showing examples from each of the five main categories.  I also gave a brief outline in relation to the new GDPR, General Data Protection Regulation, specifically aimed at independent therapists in practice.

I was fascinated with Jane’s talk on the stand-alone connective technologies available to help people stay in their homes instead of having to go into care.  She spoke about the Telehealth and Telecare services available, specifically set up in the Cambridgeshire area.  This covered everything from bed and chair sensors through to devices that monitored your blood pressure from home and fed back into a system, readily available for your doctor to examine over a period of time.  The team supporting the Telecall centres do an amazing job, dealing with all sorts of call outs in people’s homes.

Using these Assistive Technologies allows a loved one (such as mum or dad) to stay in the home using these fabulous systems, including movement sensors which can be fitted in different rooms.  This enables the monitoring team to measure, understand and be aware of the general day to day movements of a person, for example it might highlight a person who hasn’t left their bed in the morning at their usual time or hasn’t walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge to make a drink at a usual time in the afternoon.  These sensors can be placed in lots of different places, specific to the needs of the individual person.

For a person who has memory problems, a sensor could be fitted at the top of the stairs, whereby a recognised voice (e.g. daughter) would speak and say “mum you need to turn left for the bathroom”) when mum reaches the top of the stairs.  You can imagine the applications that could be used to make a person feel comfortable and safer in their own home, especially if family live far away from parents.  The savings to be made from installing these amazing sensors in the home to give a better quality of life for a person, rather than the huge cost of care home provision, makes so much sense.

It was made aware that every region in the UK has different frameworks and that some authorities/social services will have different provisions available, depending on what money they have been able to spend in this area.  It can be challenging to get a referral for an Assistive Technology Assessment, with some statutory services having very strict eligibility criteria, again depending on where you live in the country.

I loved the talking products, especially the clocks which could be set up as medication reminders.  Kristian Ramsier from Ravencourt demonstrated a number of their products in this area.  Their Rosebud Reminder Clock for people with dementia was excellent.

As we’re all hearing and learning about the advances in technology, with smart phones that can control your radiators for your central heating and put your lights on before you get home, it will be fascinating to see what new assistive technologies will emerge over the next few years and what impact these will have on our lives in general.