The Community Gateway CIC launch new Telecare and Telehealth support service at NCAS Conference helping organisations embed telecare in to the public mainstream

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Pilots such as the Whole Systems Demonstrator show that mainstreaming telecare is an arduous challenge. The Community Gateway says that organisations need to act more like Apple and Sony.

Mainstreaming Telecare

More demand is needed and less relianace on practitioners to increase referrals, where practitioners have enough on their plates already. Few social workers and Occupational Therapists complain of having too lean case loads.

The Community Gateway has developed a range of services, including Gadget Gateway that makes significant advances to address the challenges of mainstreaming telecare.

The Community Gateway CIC is showing that as consumer electronics manufacturers demonstrate such as Apple, Nokia and Sony, to embed telecare Care Providers have to go way beyond product design and assessment and referral processes. The launch of a number of services at NCAS Conference 2012 will be supported by anecdotal examples and testimonials where Community Gateway services have been developed, and parallels that can be drawn with how Apple and Sony in particular have become prolific devices.

Chief Executive Richard Haynes comments “Our services are co-designed jointly with our customers and in a way that considers the consumer ‘pull’ for telecare services. This way there is less relianace on practitioners to increase referrals".

Community Gateway ethos is that telecare should not be a weird experience. At the moment, the experience is a bit weird. And yes, it should challenge existing models of care. People get hung up (usually erroneously) over concerns that telecare reduces social contact. In fact it should be the opposite, and Community Gateway have real life examples to share. Take Mindings for example.

The Community Gateway has worked directly with Service Users to improve the experiences and access to telecare. Working with Luton Borough Council, TCG provided an independent assessment of the current telecare service which included existing contracts, referral routes, response and monitoring arrangements, existing documentation and acceptance levels amongst its staff, managers and partner agencies.

Roger Kirk, Business Redesign Manager at Luton Council commissioned Community Gateway to analyse the current position of Telecare and how it is applied in the Council, identifying opportunities to increase the use of Telecare to help maintain Luton’s citizens’. Roger comments “We found [TCG] knowledge to be a real help - they have provided a wealth of information and a direction for us to take forward, following a thorough review of our Telecare service and contracts.”.

As well as reviewing strategy however Community Gateway has shown they are not afraid of rolling up their sleeves and getting things accomplished with feet on the ground working with practitioners and Service Users. In Ross-on-Wye, Tim Mulrey (Community Gateway Associate) supported brokerage staff by desk reviewing individual cases and sourcing technologies that fit around the people. “I needed to look well beyond in some cases of what was available from traditional channels and often having to source products from smaller niche UK manufacturers (compared to larger traditional providers of Telecare) as well as further afield as China”, said Mulrey.

In one case, working with a Service User called Ben who lives in the countryside just outside of Ross-on-Wye, Tim explained how Ben previously needed a paid carer to shadow him on a bus travelling into Ross. Ben would complete some shopping and visit his girlfriend. Accompanied by a personal support assistant on a date for most people could be quite restrictive. Ben occasionally got confused in finding his way to his girlfriend’s house and would not ring or ask for help, hence the need for personal support. Because of the situation, staff needed to shadow Ben and then support him just in case he became lost which was very rare. This required 1:1 care staff, which has an effect on shared care for others in the house.

The solution in this case was to provide Ben a Skyguard MySOS which TCG helped the brokerage team to procure the system for. Skyguard enabled staff through the use of a computer to see Ben’s whereabouts, and provided support to him by phone or in person. This increased Ben’s independence and reduced the risks Ben faced, whilst enabling staff to be used in other areas in the home helping other Service Users. Ben’s social engagement with his girlfriend was much improved also.

The problem too often though is that many of these technologies are overlooked, and the public including families and carers are simply not aware they exist. For this reason in 2010, The Community Gateway worked with the Improvement Efficiency West Midlands, Voluntary Organisations and Disabilty Group and National Carers Forum as well as Commissioners across every West Midlands Council to develop a web site called AskTARA, now renamed Gadget Gateway (to avoid confusion with a similarly named site AskSara provided by the DLF for which TCG and Gadget Gateway has no relationship to).

The name change also signified vast improvements including embedded video with product demos, and the first site to incorporate service user product reviews and also importantly out of the box ecommerce functionality to support in particular providers and Social Enterprise spin offs from the council and NHS services, to generate further sustainable incomes to reinvest in health and social care.

Haynes commented “Customers often need to either book appointments or sign in. Imagine shopping in an Apple store, staffed entirely by software programmers, having to sign-in to buy an iPhone, and only being able to access the ‘shop’ during a few hours a week’.”

Haynes, continues that he is not under the illusion that the kind of service level [which most people come to expect as the norm, i.e. a shop like experience] doesn't come cheap, but in one case a Community Independent Living centre cost a similar sum to what the budget is for setting out something similar to an Apple store.

In the past Richard worked for some major UK retailers, including Boots, Halfords and Debenhams and says equipping these demonstration centres more like a ‘retail concept’ is surprisingly affordable with some initiative. This is a service that Community Gateway is more than happy to provide, including design, planning, signage, shop fitting and project management of the fitting out.

Furthermore, a lot can be done for very little money by extending the reach of existing centres through the application of ‘iPad Kiosks’, which is like the concept of a retail concession in a department store. In practice, this is a small display, with the Gadget Gateway web site placed in pharmacies and GP surgeries, vastly increasing the reach of the demo centres and CIL’s. The Community Gateway is inviting people at the NCAS Conference to come and visit and see some prototypes of this concept.

3mn lives in England is a huge undertaking when you think it took 38 years for the wireless radio to reach an audience of 50 million worldwide. When the Personal Stereo, or the Sony Walkman, the precursor to todays MP3 player, was first launched it was considered by the media of its day to be a flop before it was launched. 3mn lives therefore is no mean feat.

It was the vision of Sony to employ ‘actors’ in shopping malls to visibly wear Walkmans so these devices became socially accepted. The Community Gateway helps all organisations including retailers with how to embed telehealth and telecare further in to their services and importantly with consumers.

People requiring more information can meet TCG at NCAS Conference on stand FH13 or call and leaving their details including name, role, organisation and contact email and telephone number, or by emailing TCG through the web form here.

About The Community Gateway CIC

The Community Gateway CIC is a Social Enterprise with a Community Interest built in to its legal governance, representing a new way of working with its customers to progress quality of service, choice and improvement and efficiency.

Further Information:

Richard Haynes, The Community Gateway CIC, 0121 368 0402, media(a)tcgcic(dot)

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