The power of technology in helping people with a learning disability live more independently

There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability currently living in the UK, and ensuring that proactive, person-centred care is offered is crucial to ensure they can live both safely and more independently. Here Angus Honeysett, head of market access at Tunstall Healthcare, writes exclusively for Enable about how technology has stepped up to make a difference in the lives of people living with disabilities.

Making a difference

Technology such as telecare, assistive technology and telehealth can make a difference to people with all kinds of disabilities, whether their difficulties are relatively mild or more profound, and whether they are living in formal care settings or more independently in the community. 

From managing risks such as fires or falling, to aiding communication and helping to deliver greater privacy or dignity, technology can enable people to have more control over the way they live. As well as enhancing more traditional care solutions by managing risks at home, technology can also enable people to be connected with their wider community, friends and family. 

Technology has the potential to make a significant and positive difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities, and also to the ability of our health, housing and social care systems to offer  support that’s right for them. 

Empowering people to live independently

Community alarms and telecare have been available in the UK for several decades, but their full potential has yet to be recognised. Systems can support people living with disabilities in a range of different settings, and enable carers to offer support when it’s needed most. For example; bed occupancy and door sensors can all be used to reduce the need for 24 hour one to one care, supporting a least restrictive approach and enabling people with learning disabilities to sleep undisturbed.

Angus Honeysett

Technology can also improve the quality of care and support outside of the home, for example, the use of GPS devices which can provide reassurance so that if difficulties are encountered when out and about, help can be found easily. This enables people to feel confident when leaving home alone, and do more of the things they love with the people that matter to them.

The evolution of TECS

As technology advances, it supports the delivery of services that are not just reactive but proactive and even preventative. Intelligent use of data means trends can be identified that indicate a possible deterioration in health or increased likelihood of an event such as a fall. 

Digital innovation opens up a new world of possibilities for the provision of ’non-traditional’ support at home. Remote patient monitoring means clinicians can focus on those that truly need their support, whilst monitoring those that support themselves. They can therefore intervene when necessary, and before more complex interventions, such as hospital admission, may be required. 

Advances in technology open up new horizons in independent living. From technology that can manage wellbeing and health, to controlling a person’s environment, the potential of cutting-edge technologies to support predictive, preventative and personalised care is huge.

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