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Bulletin No. 84, September 2010


In this month's bulletin: innovative equipment services and expanding telecare services help to support independent living and the 'preventative approach'.

This news bulletin highlights innovation in AT service delivery and FAST welcomes contributions.


  1. Community Equipment Services
  2. Equipment for Children
  3. Medical Devices
  4. Information and Communications Technology
  5. Housing Services
  6. Public Services
  7. Healthcare
  8. Social Care
  9. Services for Older People
  10. Rights for Disabled People
  11. Welfare Reform
  12. Services for Children and Young People
  13. Support for Carers
  14. The Third Sector
  15. News in Brief

1. Community Equipment Services

According to the latest statistics on councils’ performance from the NHS Information Centre, 87% of people who received equipment or a minor adaptation in 2009/10 were very happy with the way they had been treated and 68% said it had made the quality of their life much better. Details are here.

The June 2010 NAEP (National Association Equipment Providers) conference included presentations about adapting the retail model for community equipment services in England to suit local circumstances. Essex Cares  is a new social enterprise which includes an equipment service (details here) and Trafford Provider Services in Manchester aims to build upon the strengths of a loan store while introducing personalisation and choice. Two reports by THIIS (The Homecare Information Industry Information Service) are here. More news from the conference is available via this link.

The Community Equipment Partnership - a collaboration between Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Primary Care Trust – has created Liverpool Lifehouse, a new multi-service centre for disabled and older people. Services include community equipment, wheelchairs, moving and handling, falls team, adaptations, communication aids, telecare and disabled living centre. More here.

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2. Equipment for Children

The Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) has teamed up with online forum ‘Parents of Disabled Children’ ( to provide advice and information on equipment for children and young people with disabilities. DLF’s occupational therapists will answer questions in a new equipment section on the Parents of Disabled Children website. More information via this link.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has set up the 'Over to You' project to improve deaf young people’s experiences of audiology services in east London. The project aims to:

  • increase the skills, knowledge and understanding of audiology of the deaf young people taking part
  • encourage and support service providers to develop a better understanding of the needs of deaf young people and to become more confident in involving them in the design and shaping of services

For more information, follow this link

Responding to a campaign about nappy supply for disabled children by Mumsnet and Every Disabled Child Matters and an intervention by the Prime Minister, the Department of Health has reminded the NHS to ensure compliance with best practice guidance on continence services. Supply should reflect a needs assessment and arbitrary ceilings are inappropriate. The reminder is here and details of the campaign are here.

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3. Medical Devices

The new consolidated EU Medical Devices Directive which was implemented in March 2010 can be viewed here.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) head office in Vauxhall, London, will be moving in October 2010,to a new location at 151 Buckingham Palace Road, which is in Victoria, Central London. For more information, go to this link.

The British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists and the trade union Unison have published ‘Influencing service reviews and changes in your workplace: a guide for BAPO members’ which is available via this link.

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4. Information and Communications Technology

Health Minister Simon Burns visited a Chelmer Housing Partnership (CHP) re-ablement housing scheme in Chelmsford, Essex to see how three ‘smart homes’ using telecare solutions from Tunstall Healthcare enable residents to be discharged from hospital earlier than would otherwise be possible. CHP, which operates 25 housing schemes has installed telecare solutions in its Essex properties. Telecare and telehealth programmes are well-advanced across Essex, with over 36,000 people benefiting from telecare (a study has found that for every £1 spent on telecare, £3.58 has been saved in traditional care costs). The report by THIIS (The Homecare Information Industry Information Service) is here.

Community Care reports that a specialist intermediate care service in Herefordshire saves the county an estimated £1.5 - £1.7 million a year by reducing admissions to residential and nursing care. Jointly funded by the council and the primary care trust, the service helps older people with mental health problems remain in their own homes. Service users are assessed on how they are coping when at home alone through Just Checking, an assistive technology system that tracks their movements. A care plan focused on reablement is delivered by domiciliary care provider SureCare, while other forms of telecare such as exit sensors are installed to manage specific risks. Integrated health and social care services in Herefordshire also include pooled budgets for equipment and adaptations. The article is here

All clients in the Whole System Demonstrator programme of large-scale telecare and telehealth projects have now received services for 12 months. A briefing paper from the Whole System Demonstrator Action Network (WSDAN) reflects on key learning points and reports that all three sites (Cornwall, Kent and Newham) have become keen advocates of these services. Taking into account other telecare services, between 1.6 million and 1.7 million users are benefiting from telecare and telehealth services in England and Care Services Minister Paul Burstow is reportedly ‘very interested in this sector’. The paper is here.

An article in the Daily Telegraph featuring the Cornwall Whole System Demonstrator project is available via this link. A link to the WSDAN briefing paper, ‘Sustaining Innovation in Telehealth and Telecare’, is here. For more information about the Whole System Demonstrator programme and the evidence base for telecare and telehealth, follow this link

A recent study for Ofcom examines how ‘assisted living services’ based on information and communications technology might help older and disabled people live more independently over the next 20 years. A summary on the WSDAN website is here.

FAST is carrying out a survey to evaluate education and training for installers of telecare and telehealth technologies. This issue has been highlighted by one of the Technology Strategy Board's Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP) projects, led by Tynetec, and the learning is to be captured by a short ALIP Knowledge Transfer Network project over the next couple of months involving FAST, who are leading on workforce development for the sector, Hereward College and the Tynetec ALIP project team.

As a first step, FAST is assessing current installation practice and support for training and education by means of a short online survey of both installers and commissioners of telecare and telehealth systems.

The link for the survey for installers of telecare and telehealth technology is here. The link for the survey for commissioners of telecare and telehealth technology is here. The deadline for survey responses is 15th September 2010. If you have any queries about the survey or the project, please contact FAST director Keren Down on 020 7264 8955 or

The assisted living organisation Alvolution, a division of MedilinkWM, has launched a technology comparison website for telecare and telehealth products and other assistive technologies. Alvolution also provides an assisted living demonstrator house in West Bromwich. For more details, go here.

According to the annual Communications Market Report from media regulator Ofcom, consumers are spending almost half (45 per cent) of their waking hours watching TV, using their mobiles and other communications devices. The growing popularity of smartphones is increasing overall communications use and is helping people use several types of media at the same time. More older people are getting online and for the first time half the over 55s have broadband at home – the fastest growing age group. The press release is here.

According to the latest survey by the Office for National Statistics, 30.1 million UK adults use the internet every day or nearly every day. For more information, follow this link.

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5. Housing Services

The latest newsletter from the Department of Health’s Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN), includes items on awards for older people’s housing, housing and dementia, extra care housing, and forthcoming events. The newsletter is here.

The Scottish Government has published ‘Guide to Funding a Major Adaptation’ which is available via this link.

The Home Adaptations Consortium has released a document highlighting the need for continued government investment in the Disabled Facilities Grant programme. More details via this link.

Habinteg Housing and London South Bank University have published new research on housing for wheelchair users in the UK. More information via this link.

To mark its 75th anniversary, the National Housing Federation is aiming to set out a vision on older people’s housing, care and support, building on the Federation’s report ‘In your lifetime’, which is here.  For further details, contact

 Procurement for Housing (PfH) harnesses the collective purchasing power of over 700 housing organisations to reduce procurement costs. PfH’s Materials Agreement includes home adaptations such as chair lifts, bath lifts and ramps. Full details are here.

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6. Public Services

Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have written to Cabinet colleagues setting out the aims of the Spending Review, which will be published on 20 October. The letter is here

Writing in the Sunday Times, David Cameron confirmed that ‘some things that we genuinely value’ will have to go. To find out more, follow this link.

According to new research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the tax and benefit changes announced in the emergency budget are ‘clearly regressive’. Read more via this link.

Under equality legislation all public bodies have a legal duty to pay 'due regard' to equality and consider any disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups when making decisions. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has asked the Treasury to demonstrate that it has complied with the legislation in relation to the budget. Details are here.

No. 10 has published links to departments’ structural reform plans with monthly progress reports. Details here.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has announced plans to disband the Audit Commission. Council audit will move to the private sector and there will be a new audit framework for local health bodies in line with the white paper ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’. The announcement is here and a response by the Audit Commission is here.

The Office of Government Commerce has published a guide to buying through framework agreements which is available via this link.

The first wave of pathfinder mutuals, to be run by public sector staff who want to take control of their services, has been announced by Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude. The 12 pathfinders, which will be supported by mentors from businesses and leaders in employee ownership, include a cooperative to integrate community health and adult social services in Swindon and the Lambeth Resource Centre providing rehabilitation support for people with physical and sensory impairments. The announcement is here.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy and the Public Management and Policy Association have published ‘Commissioning for personalization: from the fringes to the mainstream’, covering adult social care, children’s services, health, housing, employment, education and criminal justice. The report is here.

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7. Healthcare

A leaflet for the public summarising the vision set out in the July white paper ‘Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS’ is here and a special bulletin for managers is here.

The Department of Health has published a document setting out the principles and rules that it expects commissioners and providers of NHS services to follow to ensure cooperation, while protecting competition. For more information, follow this link.

A letter from NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson explains how the new criteria for reconfigurations of NHS services should be applied. Details are here.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow has announced that 15 projects will form the second wave of NHS organisations to set up social enterprises, as part of plans to give public sector workers the ability to take over the services they deliver. The NHS scheme, ‘Right to Request’, gives primary care trust staff delivering care services the right to request setting up a social enterprise. The new projects include access to psychological therapies, end of life care and a range of children’s services. To find out more, go here.

The Department of Health has reminded the NHS of the commitments given to priority healthcare and prostheses for veterans. More here.

Responsibility for the regulation of hearing aid dispensers has transferred to the Health Professions Council (details here) and the Hearing Aid Council has closed. For more information, follow this link

The British Healthcare Trades Association is calling on the government to make pressure sore prevention a priority to save the NHS up to £600 million a year. Details via this link.

A report by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign has revealed a lack of specialist multi-disciplinary care for people living with muscle disease. More information here.

The House of Commons Health Committee has launched inquiries into government plans for NHS expenditure and commissioning, including the implications for local authorities and social care. Details via this link.

The Care Quality Commission has published a guide for patients to changes in the regulation of NHS hospitals and standards of quality and safety. The aim is to look at outcomes rather than systems and processes, give patients a bigger say, and check how NHS hospitals are meeting standards now, rather than in the past. The guide is here.

The new regulations apply to health and adult social care and include the safe use, availability and suitability of equipment and devices. Detailed guidance for professionals and service providers is here.

Hygiene requirements for devices are based on the Department of Health publication ‘The Code of Practice for health and adult social care on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance’, which is here.

The Care Quality Commission is looking for experienced organisations to recruit, train and support its network of carers and service users. To find out more, follow this link

The Oxford University Press has published ‘Working with self-management courses: the thoughts of participants, planners and policy makers’ by F. Roy Jones. Details here.   

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8. Social Care

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow has set out his agenda for adult social care in the Department of Health’s latest Social Care Bulletin: ‘As my responsibilities straddle health and social care, I view myself as the “Minister for Integration”, the person responsible for making the right services available in the right place at the right time for everyone. This is how we meet three big priorities: greater personalisation to build support around the individual and put them in control of their lives; greater preventative action to support people before they reach the point of crisis; and greater productivity to make every penny count.’ The bulletin is here.

According to a survey by information provider Opportunity Links, four in ten councils have missed a key personalisation milestone to have a strategy for information and advice about care and support in place by April. Find out more via this link.

The charity Counsel and Care is offering to provide local authorities with a bespoke specialist advice and information service for older residents, their families and carers. Details are here.

The Health Professions Council is to take over the regulation of social workers in England from the General Social Care Council. More information here.

The Scottish Government has reaffirmed its commitment to free personal care for older people, rejecting the recommendations of an independent review of public expenditure. For more details, go here.

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9. Services for Older People

The Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham has published a paper on ten ‘high impact changes’ to embed prevention in older people’s services. The interventions which are reviewed include falls prevention, housing adaptations and support, and telecare/ assistive technology. While the preventative approach is widely accepted, limitations in the evidence base mean that key interventions are likely to evolve over time. The paper is here

People with dementia, their carers and family members are invited to become online mentors, as part of a new support network set up by the Department of Health in partnership with online coaching and peer mentoring site . Mentors will use their personal experiences of dementia to help others face the challenges of this condition. More on the 'Live Well with Dementia' scheme here.

The Department of Health has published its second annual report on implementing the end of life care strategy. ‘Good progress has been made in improving end of life care, but more needs to be done to make sure everyone gets the highest quality of care, in the setting of their choice’. Details via this link.

Research by the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network shows that whether people die in hospital or their own home varies greatly according to where they live. To find out more, go here. An article on this research in Community Care highlighted the integrated health and social care services provided by Torbay Care Trust (details here), which had the lowest rate of hospital deaths. Read more via this link.

UK Older People’s Day will be held on 1 October and more information is available here.

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10. Rights for Disabled People

Equality 2025 is a high-level advisory group of disabled people which offers ministers and senior government officials strategic advice at the very early stages of policy development and in-depth examinations of existing policy areas on issues that affect disabled people. For profiles of Equality 2025 members go here

The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) aims to: 

  • lead the government's vision on disability equality
  • build skills among civil servants so they can involve disabled people in their work
  • test new policy ideas and ways of delivering services
  • ensure cuts to public spending do not have a disproportionate impact on disabled people

For more about the work of ODI and the latest disability statistics, go to the ODI website, which is here.
The Equality Act 2010, which aims to strengthen and streamline discrimination law, replaces existing anti-discrimination laws, including the Disability Discrimination Act, with a single Act. Implementation of the majority of the Equality Act will begin on 1 October 2010. The Equality Act includes a slightly different legal definition of a disabled person who is protected from discrimination. The government has published draft guidance about this change and its consultation on the guidance is here.

An important part of the Act is the public sector Equality Duty and a consultation on that is here. A series of simple guides on the Equality Act for business, the public sector, the voluntary sector and the public are available here.

The Department of Health is consulting on draft guidance to health and social care services on implementing the Autism Act 2009 and the autism strategy 'Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives'. Potential areas for consideration include adjustments to premises and communications. The consultation is here.

An article in Community Care discussed whether personalisation should extend to councils allowing disabled people to spend direct payments on sexual services. To find out more, follow this link

With two years until the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, ministers have urged companies to see improving disability access as a way of becoming more profitable as well as more socially responsible. The report ‘2012 Legacy for Disabled People: Inclusive and Accessible Business’ shows that disabled consumers are a significant but poorly addressed market worth £40-£80 billion per annum. The press release is here.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign's Trailblazers project has highlighted the inaccessibility of the London Underground network and revealed the ignorance of many high street travel agents, hoteliers and airlines about the needs of disabled travellers. More information via this link.
Channel 4, the official broadcaster for the Paralympic Games, has begun covering key events and athletes in the build-up to the Games. The documentary, ‘Inside Incredible Athletes’, profiled elite athletes in five sports. For all coverage and news stories, go here.

The Christian disability charity Livability (previously known as Grooms-Shaftesbury) has appointed Michael Smith OBE as its new Chief Executive. Michael Smith is currently Chief Executive of disability charity Enham and the Enabling Partnership. More here.
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11. Welfare Reform

Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith has published ‘21st Century Welfare’, a consultation on major reforms to the benefits and tax credits system, including the option of a single integrated universal credit. The aim is to encourage people to move into work by letting them keep more of their earnings and to make the advantages of work as clear as possible. People would not lose benefit until their earnings reached a certain level and over this level benefits would gradually taper down as their earnings increased. Current sanctions for people who are able to look for or prepare for work but fail to do so (‘conditionality’) would be maintained. 

A simpler, faster and more flexible benefits system would bring together parts of the current benefits and tax credit systems and simplify the financial help available to people both in and out of work. Those in greatest need would be protected: ‘a reformed system would be based on the same structure of entitlement for people who are not working as now, including help with housing costs and extra support for families, disabled people and carers’. The phased introduction of a new system would be aligned with existing plans to close incapacity benefit and move people to employment and support allowance (ESA) or jobseeker’s allowance (over 1.5 million people on incapacity benefits will be re-assessed over a three-year period).

The paper also states that the only way to make a ‘sustainable difference’ to poverty is by tackling its root causes in ‘family breakdown; educational failure; drug and alcohol addiction; severe personal indebtedness; and economic dependency’. However, the benefits system could play an important role in supporting personal responsibility and ending a ‘culture of worklessness and dependency’. The press release is here and details of the consultation are here.

The Department for Work and Pensions has commissioned Professor Malcolm Harrington to undertake an independent review of the work capability assessment (WCA) and is seeking views. This follows concerns that the WCA, part of the ESA claim process, may be finding some people fit for work where this may not be appropriate. ESA is intended for people who have limited capability for work (who are placed in the work related activity group), and those who are unable to work (who are placed in the support group). The call for evidence is here.

The Disability Benefits Consortium has launched a survey which aims to find out about disabled people’s experience of claiming benefits. To find out more, follow this link.

The Disability Alliance charity’s website has extensive coverage of current developments affecting benefits for disabled people and is here.

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12. Services for Children and Young People

According to a Freedom of Information investigation by Community Care, one in 10 children’s and adults’ social worker posts in local authorities across the UK are vacant. The report is here.

Responding to the report, children's minister Tim Loughton pledged to continue with social work reform. The work of the Social Work Task Force is being taken forward by the Social Work Reform Board and an independent College of Social Work is being established. To find out more, go here.  

The Academies Bill has received Royal Assent and become the Academies Act . Details are here.  Becoming an academy allows a school to opt out of local authority control and to follow their own curriculum. Following work by the Special Educational Consortium, the Act includes amendments to protect children with special educational needs (SEN). A news item by the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign (EDCM) is available via this link.

The EDCM is working to challenge cuts to disabled children’s services and has launched a guide to help people influence local decision makers which is available here.

The Department for Education has published an evaluation of parent participation and workforce development in the disabled children's access to childcare pilot projects. For more information, follow this link.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has published a guide to the participation of children and young people in the delivery of child health services. Details are here.

C4EO (the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People's Services) has published the guide ‘Disability services: An A–Z of what works’ available via this link.

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13. Support for Carers

Supporting carers is a priority for the coalition government. The Department of Health is ‘refreshing’ the previous government’s national carers strategy and is seeking views by 20 September on the key priorities, supported by evidence of good practice, to improve carers’ lives in the next four years. For more details, go here

Thirteen local authorities are taking part in the Department of Health’s Carers Strategy Demonstrator Sites project in 2010/11. More information here.

Carers, who cannot work or earn enough to pay national insurance contributions because they are caring for someone, may still be credited with national insurance contributions towards their state pension. To benefit from this, visit the Directgov website or call the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321 (textphone 0845 604 5312).

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14. The Third Sector

Cabinet Office ministers have published an open letter to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors, asking them to contribute their ideas to help reduce the economic deficit and find ‘better ways of doing things’. Government colleagues and local authorities have been asked to consider the impact on the third sector and to take account of the Compact (the agreement between government and the third sector), as savings and efficiencies are identified. The Office for Civil Society has announced that it will be making £11 million savings, including a £1.3 million reduction in Capacitybuilders’ funding and £400,000 in support for the Commission for the Compact. The announcement is here and details of the Compact are here.

The government has launched a task-force to cut the burden of red-tape on the third sector. More information via this link.

The Department of Health has published information about its Third Sector Investment Programme’s Innovation, Excellence and Service Development Fund 2011/12, covering projects in health and social care. All awards are subject to the outcome of the spending review, which will be known in the autumn. Funding themes include support for older people and people with long-term conditions, such as projects that will reduce the length of stay in hospital, ‘improve the quality of life and patient satisfaction for those who have access to assistive technologies’, and enable older people to live independently through ‘prevention, personalisation and partnership delivery’. The Fund closes to applications on 1 November. The information pack is available via this link.

ACEVO (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) has welcomed the Prime Minister's statements about a Big Society but warned of a widening gap between rhetoric and reality as public spending cuts start to bite. More details via this link,  and on ACEVO’s Cuts Watch site here.  

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15. News in Brief

Booking for the 20th Moving and Handling People conference, organised by the Disabled Living Foundation, is now open. Event takes place 3rd - 4th February 2011 and the conference website is here.

Wheelchair Service Standards
The National Wheelchair Managers Forum has published an updated version of ‘Healthcare Standards for NHS-Commissioned Wheelchair Services’ available here.

Support for Business
From 1 September, when ministers seek to introduce new regulations which impose costs on business or the third sector, they will have to identify current regulations with an equivalent value that can be removed. To find out more, follow this link

Social Mobility
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to lead government efforts to improve social mobility. Former Labour minister Alan Milburn has been appointed to undertake independent, annual reviews of progress towards a more socially mobile society. He is expected to build on his work for the previous government as Chair of the Panel on Fair Access to the Professions. The announcement is here.

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