In this month's bulletin: evidence on the benefits of housing services, improvements in wheelchair design, new national occupational standards for assistive technologies, research into integrated care finds that personal contact is more important than remote monitoring, and news about the Winter Paralympics.
CECOPS, the Community Equipment Code of Practice Scheme, which manages a registration and accreditation scheme for the Code of Practice, has launched its first e-newsletter, with a foreword and blog from its chair Sir Bert Massie. CECOPS approved training courses on commissioning and governance, service provision, and clinical and professional responsibilities are available at locations across the UK. CECOPS is also extending its work to include wheelchair services, in cooperation with the National Wheelchair Managers Forum, and to cover care homes and hospices.
The January blog from Alan Norton, Chief Executive, Assist UK, highlights its services and upcoming events, including its annual conference on 3 April. Assist UK leads the UK’s network of local disabled living centres.
Work has started on a new £2.1 million AT Hub in Leeds that will house under one roof Leeds Community Equipment Service, the Blue Badge Team, and out -of -hours support teams. A planned second phase is proposed to include a ‘smart house’ to demonstrate new technologies, an AT retail unit and a product testing laboratory. A report by The Homecare Industry Information Service is here.
The Cooperative has launched a range of independent living products.
Having appliances that are easy to use can make life much simpler. Rica’s website has checklists explaining what features to look out for when choosing mainstream appliances.
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Last winter, Foundations Independent Living Trust coordinated the Warm Homes Service, funded by £500,000 from the Department of Health, which aimed to prevent cold related harm and illness among vulnerable people facing fuel poverty. It was delivered by 55 home improvement agencies, reached more than 6,000 people within a four-month period − many with long-term conditions – provided advice, and carried out jobs ranging from fixing faulty boilers to draughty windows. An evaluation by Sheffield Hallam University found that ‘the benefits experienced by clients were sizeable when compared to the average cost of the intervention (around £200) and the benefits and cost savings of such a scheme could potentially be realised across health, housing and social care.’
The Housing, Care and Health Integration Toolkit from Foundations helps home improvement agencies, handyperson services and housing support providers build a case for including such services within local authority housing strategies and in plans for the Better Care Fund, which are being developed by health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups. Guidance is available via Foundations - Housing, Care and Health Integration Toolkit.
How to make effective use of adapted properties from the Chartered Institute of Housing provides guidance to help those working in housing management to better understand the housing needs of older and disabled people for adapted accommodation and how it can facilitate independent living.
The Homes and Communities Agency has launched its 2015-2018 prospectus inviting housing associations, councils, developers and others to bid for a share of up to £1.7 billion for 165,000 additional affordable homes outside London from April 2015, including supported housing and housing for older people. A supplementary document provides more detailed information on housing choices and specific design criteria for vulnerable and older people. Briefing on the Housing Learning and Information Network website is here.
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3. Mobility and Transport
The Motor Neurone Disease Association is working with manufacturers to develop wheelchairs better suited to the requirements of people living with motor neurone disease and other neurological conditions. The project has been funded by a grant from the Department of Health and the new chairs will better adapt to the changing needs of people with MND, will incorporate communication and environmental aids, and should be available from statutory services.
The British Healthcare Trades Association has welcomed the increasing use of stand-up wheelchairs.
Aspire Grants is a service available to people with spinal injuries who need equipment to increase their independence.
The British Red Cross continues to provide short-term loans of wheelchairs and other equipment at almost 1,000 outlets in the UK.
The Department for Transport is seeking to learn more about the experiences of wheelchair users when using taxis and mini cabs and is seeking views in a survey which closes on 16 February 2014.
The House of Commons discussed the Select Committee on Transport report, Access to Transport for Disabled People, on 9 January.
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4. Connected Health and Care
Wragge and Co have produced a Connected Health White Paper discussing the definition of terms such as telecare, telehealth, mHealth and telemedicine and the future role of these services across the European Union, in the first of a series by the European Connected Health Alliance.
£37.3 million is being invested in the UK-wide dallas research programme – Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale. dallas is establishing communities totalling 169,000 people by June 2015, which will show how independent living technologies, services and systems can be used to promote wellbeing and provide integrated health and care, enabling people to live independently. A report on the potential economic and business benefits describes the current baseline position, including the scope of the independent living sector and current barriers to growth. Download a copy of the report here.
In a discussion for Total Politics magazine, two MPs and a research analyst at the Nuffield Trust consider why telehealth has not been implemented more widely.
Two thirds of GPs interviewed by GP magazine in a recent survey think telehealth won't improve care.
The telecare system in Malta handles 100,000 calls every six months. These figures are expected to increase following the recent launch of Telecareplus, which offers users increased and enhanced services.
The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS) has produced a report entitled Imagining the Future - Enabling technology which examines how technology will impact on social care provision.
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5. Information and Communication Technology
The ACE Centre has launched a dedicated freephone advice line which is manned Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Please ring 0800 080 3115 for free advice and information.
Communication Matters has set up the website www.AACknowledge.org.uk which brings together information and research evidence about augmentative and alternative communication. Communication Matters also hosts an AAC discussion forum and produces a monthly email newsletter.
Microsoft is supporting the new International Association of Accessibility Professionals.
Blind and partially sighted people have asked the EU's Greek presidency to revive the debate on web accessibility before the May EU elections and push the European Parliament to strengthen and expedite current legislation. The European Commission proposed a directive on public sector websites a year ago.
A report on the EurActiv website can be found here.
A blog by Philip Connolly of Disability Rights UK considers the future of assistive technology for those who are blind and partially sighted, and how we can move from products for mainstream markets that are adapted for the blind, through technologies customised for the blind, and on to technology initiated by the blind.
Looking Local (formerly DigiTV) provides information about central and local government services via digital TV and mobile phones, with a focus on reaching digitally excluded audiences.
Predictions in Deloitte’s latest technology report include:
6. Workforce and Skills
Skills for Health’s updated National Occupational Standards for Assistive Technologies have been approved by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and are available on the Skills for Health website.
Evidence fact-sheets from the College of Occupational Therapists provide key facts, examples of cost benefits and relevant references for a range of service areas involving occupational therapy.
NHS Education for Scotland has launched IPAACKS: Informing and Profiling AAC Knowledge and Skills: www.nes.scot.nhs.uk/education-and-training/by-discipline/allied-health-professions/augmentative-and-alternative-communication-(aac).aspx More information is also available from Communication Matters.
Health Education England has published its first ever national Workforce Plan covering £5 billion pounds invested annually in education and training for 110 different roles. Plans for training places in 2014/15 include an increase of 9% for nursing to cover demand in the acute and community sectors, a growth of 3% for allied health professions overall, but small reductions for speech and language therapists and occupational therapists to take account of investment in previous years.
Accredited Voluntary Registers are a way for people working in unregulated health and social care occupations to gain additional credibility, through inclusion on a register independently assessed and approved by the Professional Standards Authority (formerly the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence).
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NHS England commissions specialised healthcare services, including specialised equipment services, is developing a five year vision and strategy for these services and is asking patients, public and professionals for ideas of how changes could be made to specialised services.
NHS England is also establishing an Industry Reference Group and a Patient and Public Voice Assurance Group to support this work.
Up to 100 people a week have a limb amputated as a result of diabetes and in many cases this is avoidable eg by foot care helping to prevent the development of pressure ulcers. NHS England has set out a vision for how it wants the growing problem of diabetes to be tackled in 2014. The new plan, Action for Diabetes, outlines how it would like to see better prevention of Type 2 diabetes, earlier diagnosis of all diabetes, and support for people to manage their diabetes better.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has published a quality standard for rheumatoid arthritis. Potential interventions include specialist occupational therapy, physiotherapy and podiatry.
NHS England and Monitor have published the national tariffs for 2014/15 under the payment by results system. Tariff prices for community and mental health services have been cut by a fifth more than for acute services, on the grounds that the costs of quality improvements following the Francis and Keogh reports only apply to the latter. According to the Health Service Journal, Care Services Minister Norman Lamb has warned NHS England he may intervene if this approach undermines the government’s commitment to parity of esteem for mental health.
Launching a new national mental health action plan, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the government wants to see mental health prioritised to the same extent as physical health. Services should recognise that many people have mental and physical health needs.
The Department of Health is consulting about fundamental standards of safety and quality that all health and social care providers will have to meet to be registered with the Care Quality Commission. The standards include: ‘all premises and equipment used must be safe, clean, secure, suitable for the purpose for which they are being used, and properly used and maintained’.
According to the King’s Fund latest quarterly monitoring report, NHS performance is holding up well, but more than 1 in 5 hospitals are set to be in deficit by the end of the financial year, and a third of directors of adult social services are forecasting deficits, as they face severe cuts to local authority budgets.
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8. Integrated Care
The King’s Fund has published a guide to councils, health and wellbeing boards and clinical commissioning groups on how they can best use the Better Care Fund to integrate health and social care. The Fund will include £220 million for disabled facilities grants to fund housing adaptations.
Presentations from the King’s Fund’s Better Care Fund learning event are here.
The King’s Fund has published a report comparing case studies of integrated care for older people in the UK and six other countries. One finding is that personal contact with a named care coordinator or case manager (‘high-touch’ care) is more important than remote monitoring or telephone-based support (‘high-tech’ care). In only one case study was telehealth deployed.
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9. Social Care
Following consultation, the Department of Health has asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to develop its first quality standards for social care, covering the following topics:
Analysis by the Care and Support Alliance shows that within the overall squeeze on social care, people who need support in their own home (getting up, washing, dressing) and local community (such as shopping) are most likely to be losing out on care. Overall, adults receiving this community-based care fell by almost a third (31%) since 2008, older people receiving help at home and in their community fell by 36%, and working aged people with a physical disability receiving help at home and in their community fell by 29%.
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10. Services for People with Dementia
The Technology Strategy Board and the Telecare Learning and Improvement Network have published a supplement on telecare and dementia.
The Housing Learning and Information Network website has information on housing and dementia.
Guide to supporting a loved one with dementia from housing and care provider Anchor covers common concerns, including how to get a diagnosis, creating safe living environments and care options.
Living Well with Dementia: The Importance of the Person and the Environment for Wellbeing is a new book by Shibley Rahman, which includes positive references to the potential of technology to support people with dementia and their carers.
The Virtual Hospital from the Dementia Services Development Centre shows how good design can make an acute hospital setting dementia-friendly.
The Alzheimer's Society has launched a New guide for customer-facing staff to help people with dementia.
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11. Rights for Disabled People
In July 2013 the Office for Disability Issues published the consultation 'Better working with disabled people', as part of the Fulfilling potential strategy. The government’s response to the consultation now proposes a new strategic engagement forum with members from a wide range of disability organisations, chaired by the Minister of State for Disabled People (Department for Work and Pensions) and the Minister of State for Care and Support (Department of Health).
The government’s new Community Data Toolkit provides access in one place to data and statistics for disability groups.
The UK House of Commons International Development Committee is holding an inquiry into disability and development with charities and other stakeholders have been giving evidence.
Sue Bott, Disability Rights UK's Director of Policy and Development, was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to people with disabilities and their families. More from the Disability News Service here.
According to a report from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Trailblazers group, high streets are losing out on disabled shoppers because of problems with access.
Trailblazers have published the guide Top Tips for high street business on how businesses can improve disabled customers’ experiences.
The 2014 Paralympic Winter Games will take place from 7-16 March in Sochi, a resort on the Black Sea coast of Russia. The five sports in Sochi will be alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sledge hockey and wheelchair curling. Great Britain has competed in every Paralympic Winter Games, winning 21 medals in total but is still looking for its first gold. ParalympicsGB is sending a team of 15, made up of five wheelchair curlers and ten alpine skiers in different categories.
Channel 4 Paralympics, the official UK broadcaster for the Games, has the latest news and photos on the road to Sochi.
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12. Welfare Reform
According to the latest government figures, disabled people are moving into jobs, training or work placements at a rate of more than 100 placements every working day. Key initiatives include the DisabilityConfident campaign to encourage employers to take on disabled people, the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) which has helped almost 6,000 disabled people set up their own business, and Access to Work which funds equipment and other support for disabled people at work, helping 31,400 disabled people to keep or get employment last year. More information here.
According to Disability Rights UK, the statistics show that the Work Programme is massively under-performing in getting disabled people into employment.
Following the news that 32% of new claimants for employment and support allowance, almost a million people, were deemed as fit for work between October 2008 and March 2013, Disability Rights UK and other charities criticised the work capability assessment.
A Commons Work and Pensions Committee report urges the government to address the unacceptably high ratio of employment and support allowance claimants to specialist Jobcentre Plus disability employment advisers (currently over 600:1). The report, ‘The role of Jobcentre Plus in the reformed welfare system’, also argues that staff should be incentivised to get jobseekers into work not just off benefits, and conditionality rules should be balanced with effective, in-depth employment support for those claimants who need it. Read the report here.
Millions of people who do not have internet access in their homes can now find information about universal credit and finding work via their mobile phones or the red button on their TV remote control. The new services have been designed by the Department for Work and Pensions in partnership with the digital content provider lookinglocal.gov.uk.
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13. Services for Children and Young People
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has published a note on the diversity of special educational needs, the problems with current services, and the reforms in the Children and Families Bill.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson has announced a £30 million fund to help parents navigate the new special educational needs process planned in the Bill. The reforms include replacing SEN statements and learning disability assessments with new integrated birth-to-25 education, health and care (EHC) plans. The fund will be used to recruit and train a pool of 'independent supporters' - champions drawn from independent voluntary, community and private organisations - to help families develop EHC Plans. The Council for Disabled Children will invite applications from private, voluntary and community sector organisations who believe they can offer independent supporters from within their ranks.
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The Inclusion, Independence and Choice Show 2014 takes place on 14 and 15 February in Manchester to demonstrate resources and support for disabled people.
An evening networking event on 20 February organised by the Assisted Living Action Network will feature presentations by Keren Down, Director of the Foundation for Assistive Technology, about 'creating a retail telecare market' and Dr Nigel Harris, from Designability, who will discuss the 'The Memory Technology Library'.
What's the evidence for telecare? Connecting research, policy and practice takes place on 20 February at the London School of Economics.
This year’s Health and Care Innovation Expo takes place on 3 and 4 March 2014 at Manchester Central.
The European Knowledge Tree Group (EKTG) is a high level group from across technology, finance, service, policy and innovation sectors, which looks into the barriers and drivers around mainstream market uptake of independent living services. The next EKTG event, on 24 and 25 March at the London School of Economics, will consider the mainstreaming of technology. An early bird delegate rate of £60 is available till 10 February; register to attend here.
On 27 March Medilink UK will host the final in a series of events which will look at how industry can use the recently published assistive technology capability maps to review current provision and understand where new business opportunities can be found.
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15. News in Brief
Presentations from the RAatE 2013 conference, which took place in November 2013, are available to view and download.
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists has published the guidance Five good communication standards: reasonable adjustments to communication that individuals with learning disability and/or autism should expect in specialist hospital and residential settings. Services should use appropriate tools, techniques and technologies to meet individual needs.
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