Wednesday 31 October 2012

Graham finds out about Telecare

It was really good to meet Graham Skidmore and his Executive Assistant, Rosie, earlier this week.
Graham is Service Quality Director for Thera East and is taking part in the Lived Experience pilot, which aims to fulfil the need for wider engagement between service users and the sector and their communities. Graham is keen to extend his role by bringing new experiences to his job that could further help the people Thera supports. As he is interested in the use of assistive technology I arranged for him and Rosie to visit Icom’s telesupport demo suite to see some of their equipment in action.

Graham and Rosie in the demo suite

Kevin and Paul from Icom showed some of the detector sensors, such as epilepsy, falls and extreme temperature. They also talked about how they have developed some more innovative pieces of equipment not usually seen elsewhere such as a cotton enuresis sheet which is better to sleep on than the old style plastic sheets, a flood detector which detects that a flood is likely to occur and can cut off the supply before it happens rather than afterwards and also infrared beams which detect movement between two spaces.
Graham was very interested in the biometric locks which can be of real assistance to people who have difficulty using keys or often forget their keys. Icom even came up with a solution when Graham asked what someone without hands could use!

Graham trying out the biometric lock
Kevin also explained about their range of telehealth equipment which can help people manage and monitor their own health conditions and feed-back information to their health care professional remotely.

Graham looking at some of the telehealth equipment

Graham was really interested in how the equipment can help people to remain safe and become more independent in their own homes. We talked about how important it is for support staff to be properly trained and so that they see the equipment as helping them to provide better support rather than fearing the equipment. Graham is going to share his experience with others at Thera so they can think about how technology can assist the people they support.

A huge thank you to Kevin and Paul at Icom for their time and allowing us access to their demo suite.

Please email me: if you would like to visit Icom’s demo suite or would like further information about assistive technology assessments and training.

Monday 22 October 2012

Holly Lodge

Holly lodge will be a supported living scheme for adults with learning disabilities. You will be able to track the progress of Holly Lodge here and watch the development come together.

Holly Lodge will combine innovative bespoke design, technology and environmentally friendly features to make it one of a kind.

Holly Lodge is being built by mcch Society. mcch’s Housing Team is working in partnership with colleagues in their Support Team, Kent County Council and Avenues Group to develop a newbuild supported living scheme which will house and support 5 adults who present with behaviours that challenge services. Our aim was to create state-of-the-art premises that maximise comfort, security and the personal development of the tenants. Holly Lodge is due to be completed and ready for occupation in January 2013.

Because it is unique we have already had many enquiries about the design, technology and support arrangements, so we have decided to produce a series of blogs to share our progress and thinking. We will be producing a ‘biography’ of the scheme later in 2013, once the tenants have settled into their new homes, giving more detailed information about the processes and the lessons we have learned.

Holly Lodge is being built on the site of two former single storey bungalows. Each provided accommodation for eight residents plus sleepover facilities for support staff.  Thought was given to whether these properties could be extended, reconfigured and modernised to provide more up to date accommodation but the buildings had suffered from subsidence causing structural damage. The need to demolish and build from new has offered opportunities to ensure the development of flexible accommodation which will suit the housing and supports needs of the prospective and future tenants.

Ultimately, driven by the shape of the site and the trees on its boundaries, the scheme has been designed to curve around a central courtyard, which will provide communal space and access between the apartments and staff facilities. A great deal of thought has been given to every design aspect of the site to ensure that it is robust but aesthetically pleasing. Having visited several “challenging behaviour units” we were mindful that without careful thought and planning, environments could look sparse and institutional. Instead we wanted minimal and practical! We also wanted to create an environment which would be conducive to calm behaviour, assist staff to deliver less intrusive support and increase the tenants’ independence and confidence; in some ways could we “design-out” some challenging behaviour?

In future blogs we will look in more detail at the local authority’s perspective and hopes for the scheme, the building design, the assistive technology and how the two support provider organisations will be working successfully together to deliver personalised support to the tenants.