In this month's bulletin: the Communication Champion's final report, the government's 3millionlives telecare concordat, and reducing falls in older people is named as one of the targets for local authorities under the new public health framework.
This news bulletin highlights innovation in AT service delivery and FAST welcomes contributions.
The Neurological Alliance, which represents more than 70 charities and organisations, has warned that the NHS faces a 'neurology timebomb' as the number of people living with conditions such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease is climbing. The umbrella group wants to see government appoint a neurology tzar to oversee improvements in services. In his response, Care Minister Paul Burstow mentions telecare and telehealth as a way of achieving this, after a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) at the end of last year was highly critical of services for people with neurological conditions, describing current government strategy as 'poor'. The article is here and the NAO report is here.
Professor Jeremy Wyatt, from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at Warwick University, argues in an article for the Guardian newspaper that there still needs to be more work evaluating the value of telehealth, despite the release of positive initial findings from the Whole Systems Demonstrators (WSD). He cites concerns that telecare may encourage some people to take greater responsibility for their health than is appropriate, along with worries about the potential impact of the technology of people's quality of life, and points out that only 7% of 700 people with long term conditions in a recent Ipsos Mori survey for the Department of Health would value 'devices in their homes to monitor a long term health condition'. Details via this link.
In a personal article on telecare also published in the Guardian, the 'Patient from Hell' columnist suggests that progress in 2012 is likely to be slow, largely because of a lack of government funding. Read more here.
Surrey GPs are using a tool supplied by Docobo to assess whether patients with long term conditions would benefit from greater interventions, including telecare, to prevent unwanted or unnecessary hospital admissions. Details via this link.
The International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare is being held on 6th-8th March 2012 at the Kings Fund in London. The agenda includes presentations and more detailed information about the results of the Whole Systems Demonstrators. More about the event, at which Paul Burstow is a keynote speaker, here.
The January issue of the ALIP/Telecare LIN newsletter is focused on the WSD results and on the DALLAS programme (Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale). The newsletter is available in PDF format here (415Kb) and in Word here (2.01Mb).
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Following on from the publication of the initial findings of the WSD, the Department of Health has announced its '3millionlives' campaign, which aims to see three million people who are living with long term conditions signed up to use telecare and telehealth over the next five years.
Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for Care Services, has published a Concordat with the four trade associations representing the telehealth and telecare industry. ‘3millionlives’ is about transforming service delivery for people with long term conditions, and/or social care needs, by utilising telehealth and telecare within health and social care services, enabling millions of people to receive the significant benefits evidenced in the WSD trials. These resulted in a 15% reduction in A&E visits; a 20% reduction in emergency admissions; a 14% reduction in elective admissions; and a 45% reduction in mortality rates, which the government described as 'striking'.
Signatories to the Concordat include the Telecare Services Association (TSA), the largest telecare and telehealth specific industry body in Europe, representing over 340 organisations; Intellect, representing the IT sector; Association of British Healthcare Industries (ABHI), the industry association for the UK medical technology sector ;and Medilink UK, the life sciences industry organisation with specific interest in telehealth and telecare.
The government will not be providing direct funding for telecare and telehealth, but the aim of the 3millionlives campaign is to raise public awareness and provide 'an enabling framework'. Care Services minister Paul Burstow said: 'I want to see more people across the country benefit from this sort of technology. That is why we are working with industry, the NHS and Councils to change the lives of three million people across England over the next five years.'
Each industry association has provided an initial £10,000 contribution to kick start the campaign, which is also actively seeking further sponsors. Organisations which signal their agreement to taking part in the 3millionlives approach will also sign up to meet relevant standards and regulatory requirements with regards to telecare and telehealth. There is to be a meeting for potential supporters with the Department of Health in London on 29th February 2012. Details of the Concordat are here, and the 3millionlives campaign website is here.
3. Medical Devices
4. Housing Services
Housing Minister Grant Shapps and Communities Minister Andrew Stunell have called on councils to use every opportunity under the New Deal for Older People to give older people more choice and control over where they live, so they are not pressured to sell their home or move into residential care. Under the New Deal for Older People the Government is providing funding for home adaptations so older people can live in their own homes for longer, as well as backing innovative schemes that offer older people the assistance they need to live independently. More details here.
Grant Shapps has also confirmed the local authority allocations of the £20 million additional funding for the Disabled Facilities Grant in England. More information via this link.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has published the final report of the University of York's independent evaluation of its Handyperson Programme. This shows that handyperson services are assisting large numbers of older, disabled and vulnerable people to live independently in their own homes for longer in greater levels of comfort and security. The report says they offer an important safety net for older people, and they also enhance the effectiveness of health and social care provision through the delivery of often very simple and very low cost interventions. Services are consistently highly rated by people who use them, and they are valued for their trustworthiness, reliability, quality, and crucially for the skills and respectful attitudes of the staff. As the population ages there will be greater demand for such services, and a greater imperative to assist older people to live independently. More information here.
McCarthy and Son, suppliers of owner occupied independent living housing, have welcomed the government's commitment to increasing the availability of accessible general-needs retirement housing as well as sheltered and extra care accommodation. Find out more here.
5. Mobility and Transport
The Blue Badge Improvement Service came into force at the beginning of the year. All local councils have signed up to the new services, which is designed to tackle rising levels of badge fraud and abuse and to improve customer service for disabled people. The service establishes a common store of key information on badges and badge holders and offers a national service for applying for badges or reporting a badge loss, via Directgov. There is also a new national helpline for enquiries. More information via this link.
The European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) and DisabledGo are looking for volunteer disabled drivers to test out a new Sat Nav service set to launch in 2012. Drivers will be asked to trial the device for two weeks in March and provide feedback on the service, which includes information on blue badge parking bays, accessible toilets and access information about venues close to a given destination, along with standard navigational assistance. To take part, contact Anna Borthwick, Head of Business Development and Marketing. E: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01438 842710. More information here.
Whizz-Kidz, the UK charity that supports young disabled people with mobility equipment, life skills and campaigning and leadership tools, is holding holds its first national recognition event. The Kidz Unlimited ‘Celebrating Achievement’ Awards will be held at a House of Commons ceremony on 8th February 2012. Details here.
The Department of Health is to provide up to £100 million in additional funding to doctors in emerging Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to improve local services and reduce pressures on the NHS during the colder months. Clinicians in these groups will spend the money directly on local care services that best meet their patients’ clinical needs and prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital, and which could include:
For more details, go here.
The Department of Health has published 'Healthy lives, healthy people: Improving outcomes and supporting transparency', which sets out a three part framework introducing the government's overarching vision for public health, the outcomes to be achieved and the indicators that will be used to assess the impact of the new measures. Details here.
The new framework sets out 66 health measures, and those councils who make the most improvements will be offered cash incentives. In a speech at the Royal Society for Public Health, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley set out six of the key measures, one of which is that fewer over 65s will suffer falls. Read more here.
The Department of Health Informatics Directorate has developed an online resource to support mobile working programmes in the NHS. Primarily focused on community services, the NHS Mobile Working Knowledge Centre presents good practice guidance, tools and case studies on the implementation of mobile working in healthcare. Details here.
The Audit Commission is challenging trusts to review their approaches to delivering cost-saving plans, saying that as well as saving money they must also transform clinical and non-clinical services in ways that improve patient care, satisfaction and safety in the long term. To support this, the Audit Commission and Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts, have published a guide called 'Delivering sustainable cost improvement programmes'. It is aimed at all NHS trusts and foundation trusts, and shows how successful organisations approach the delivery of cost improvement programmes (CIPs). Find out more via this link.
The government has accepted the latest recommendations from the independent NHS Future Forum, which include the need to orientate the whole health system around patients. This means that for the first time, patient experience of integrated care will be measured as part of the Outcomes Framework. More details here.
David Flory has been confirmed as the first Chief Executive of the NHS Trust Development Authority (NTDA), which will be providing governance and oversight of NHS trusts, supporting them to NHS foundation trust status from April 2013. Flory will continue in his current role, as Deputy NHS Chief Executive and Director General for Finance, Performance and Operations at the Department of Health, until March 2013. Details here.
Personal health budgets are currently being piloted in the NHS in England, with over 2,700 participants across 20 sites. The Department of Health has published a paper exploring personal health budgets for people receiving NHS continuing healthcare. Details are here and here.
The government's Health and Social Care Bill ran into difficulties in the Lords during a hearing in late January, and the Department of Health has now announced planned amendments covering Secretary of State accountability, greater patient involvement, education and training, health inequalities and strengthening integration. There is more information here and here.
7. Social Care
The Kings Fund have published a new report to the Department of Health and the NHS Future Forum advocating closer partnership working and an integrated approach across health and social care. 'Integrated Care for patients and populations: Improving outcomes working together' is available via this link.
The integration of health and social care services should be thought about more in terms of cultures, behaviours and values rather than formal structures, according to the NHS Confederation and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. Read more here.
Age UK has published its Care in Crisis report which shows that spending on social care for older people in England has fallen by half a billion pounds since 2010. The charity's projected figures suggest that the government ought to be spending £7.8 billion this year in order to maintain the same levels of service as 2010, but says councils have only budgeted £7.3 billion. Details here.
8. Information and Communications Technology
Martha Lane Fox, the UK Digital Champion, is calling on the government to do more to encourage digital literacy amongst the older generation, following news of changes in the ICT curriculum for school students. Read more here.
Education Secretary Michael Gove gave a speech at BETT, the specialist education technology conference and exhibition, on the new approach to ICT in schools, but failed to cover the impact of new technologies of opportunities for children with disabilities to be included in mainstream placements. More here.
Technology company Intel is exploring new ways to assist world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking to continue communicating as his motor neurone disease progresses. Expression detection, combining special cameras with software algorithms, and brain wave techniques are among those under consideration. Intel CTO Justin Rattner said: 'Stephen's current system works by hanging an optical sensor from his glasses that detects a twitch in his cheek muscle. This is used to stop a cursor that is constantly scrolling through the letters of the alphabet. This is a slow process and relies on being able to detect the twitch of the cheek muscle. As his condition deteriorates, this may no longer become viable.' More here.
The International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (ISfTeH) has launched initiative called The Global eHealth Ambassadors Program (GeHAP), with seed funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Gulbenkian Foundation. The purpose of the GeHAP program is to raise the profile of eHealth worldwide, through advocacy activities. The six eHealth Ambassadors named so far are Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; Prof. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Former President of Brazil; ;Dr. Emilio Rui Vilar, President of the Gulbenkian Foundation; Lord Nigel Crisp, former CEO of the NHS; Peter Gabriel, musician; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and CEO, Econet Wireless Group. For further information, follow this link.
9. Services for Older People
A report from the Department for Work and Pensions, 'Attitudes to age in Britain 2010/11' warns that negative attitudes and age stereotypes risk leaving older people feeling isolated and excluded from opportunities. The report looks in depth at experiences of discrimination and at ways in which prejudice can be challenged. The report is here and there is a press release here.
Age UK has named two new Internet Champions for 2012. Keith Paterson, aged 80, and Brenda O’Mulloy, who is 83, will work with the charity over the coming year to help show the 5.7 million people over 65 who have never used the internet that they too can enjoy the many benefits it has to offer – such as keeping in touch with friends and family and making savings online. Paterson, who is severely deaf, runs his own website (www.silverhairs.co.uk) to answer older people’s computer related questions and help breakdown the barriers that stop people from learning to get online. More here.
Older people feel that their health problems pose a challenge to their sense of independence, dignity and identity and sometimes the health care they are given makes things worse. According to research funded by UK Research Councils' New Dynamics of Ageing programme (NDA), healthcare providers must avoid taking a 'blanket view' of how to help older people cope with the ageing process. Find out more here.
10. Rights for Disabled People
The government is commissioning a new Equality Advisory and Support Service to provide a high-quality service helping individuals in England, Scotland and Wales who have problems with discrimination. It will give expert advice and support, tailored to people’s individual circumstances, with a particular focus on providing in depth support to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals to find early and informal solutions where possible. Everyone will be able to use the new service, whatever their means. It will strive to meet the highest standards of accessibility for everyone – including people with disabilities and those for whom English is not their first language. Details here.
The government has announced a consultation on the second draft of the assessment criteria for Personal Independence Payment. In particular it seeks views on the changes that have been made since the first draft, the proposed descriptor weightings and entitlement thresholds and the draft regulations. More details here.
A group of disabled people, who go under the name Spartacus, was responsible for researching, collating and distribution information about the consultation, using Freedom of Information requests to find out the details. More here.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published ten reports from a targeted programme of 150 unannounced inspections of hospitals and care homes that care for people with learning disabilities. The first five reports were published in December. Read more via this link.
11. Self Care
Self Care Week 2011 (14 – 20 November 2011) was an opportunity for NHS, social care and voluntary sector organisations to raise awareness of the services they provide to help people take care of themselves. The Department of Health has published a review which captures some of the national and locally-led activity that took place. To read the details, go here.
Communications Champion Jean Gross has published her final report. Amongst the 30 major recommendations is the suggestion that the Health and Social Care Bill, currently going through Parliament, should be amended to make joint commissioning of children’s community health services compulsory to improve services for the 1 million children in the UK with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
Jean Gross notes her concerns about the impact which cuts to frontline services are having on speech therapy provision at a time when there has been a 58% increase in the numbers of children with SLCN, and says that there is too much variability in services provided by the NHS and local
authorities. The report states that joint commissioning is still not happening in 70% of local areas, with the result that responsibility to meet children’s SLCN can be passed from one agency to another, with 'with parents and children stuck in the middle of local disputes'.
While she records some examples of good practice in the provision of speech and language therapy for children with high levels of need, Jean Gross also points to examples of failure, including 'areas with no available budget to provide children and young people who have no speech with the electronic communication aids which would enable them to talk to others. In the words of one teacher, whose local area did not have a budget for communication aids, ‘‘Through social care we can get an adapted bed for a child, but not funding to purchase a communication aid that would allow that child to say if they are tired. We can get a special cup, but not the means for the child to say they are thirsty. We can get a new wheelchair, but not the means for the child to tell us whether it is comfortable’. The final report is here, and there is a press release from the charity Communication Matters here.
Communication Matters is planning some lobbying activity to maximise the impact of the report, and is asking AAC users in particular to complete an online survey about their equipment funding experiences, using this link.
The Center for AAC & Autism, which was founded in the USA in 2009, has opened a UK office. Staffed by speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and assistive technology experts, the Center offers Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) training seminars nationwide to teach professionals and family members AAC strategies for promoting language development for those with autism. The Center also serves as an online destination for AAC information, tools and additional resources; supports clinical research aimed at the effective implementation of AAC within the autism arena; and facilitates sharing of best practices and success stories among therapists and families. For more details, follow this link.
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13. Services for Children and Young People
A video created by a NDCS supporter in support of NDCS’s family sign language campaign has gone viral on the youtube website, being viewed over a million times. Following this, a petition calling on the Government in England to ensure that families who need to learn sign language to be able to communicate with their deaf child get the support they need has now been signed by over 2,000 people. Read more here.
The government has announced it is to set up a Children and Young People's Forum which will focus on improving health results for children, including those needing primary, hospital and urgent care, and children with long-term conditions. The Forum will be jointly chaired by Professor Ian Lewis, Medical Director at the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, and Christine Lenehan, Director at the Council for Disabled Children, and will hear views from children, parents, carers and wider families as well as health professionals. The Department of Health announcement is here and there is comment from the Children's Trust charity here.
The British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) has published a five point plan to boost the provision of assistive technology in schools. The trade association is calling for school-wide licences for literacy support software – to help the one-in-ten students – who are dyslexic and the introduction of accessible concept mapping software, school websites and virtual learning environments. It also says schools should make curriculum materials available in accessible formats for students with a reading impairment through services such as the Load2Learn project run by the RNIB and Dyslexia Action, and wants the Equality and Human Rights Commission to rewrite a draft Equality Act code of practice covering disabled people to strengthen its provisions for assistive technology. More details in Ability magazine here.
14. Welfare Reform
The government's plans to reform welfare have hit difficulties after three defeats in the House of Lords on proposed benefit cuts. Plans to means-test employment and support allowance (ESA) payments for disabled people after only a year were rejected by peers. The other defeats were over plans to time-limit ESA for those undergoing cancer treatment, and to restrict access to ESA for young people with disabilities or illness. More information is here and here.
15. News in Brief
Conference on older people and technological inclusion, at the Open University on 17th February 2012. Details here.
Advancing Rehabilitation Engineering Practice (AREP)
One day professional meeting aimed specifically at the interests of rehabilitation engineers, held at Coventry University on 29th February 2012. More here.
Body Sensor Network (BSN) technology has gained significant interest in recent years from researchers both in academia and industry. BSN 2012 will be held May 10th - 12th in London and will include showcases and demonstrations of the latest BSN developments. Details here.