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What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is a term used to describe any standalone device or system that can help a person to increase the ease or safety of any aspect daily living to make life easier for example i.e.) remembering to take medication, getting help in an emergency or to alert a carer, an anti-spill cups to enhance independent drinking.

With some of these little gadgets, a small change can make a big impact on the person and what can they are able to manage more independently, it can also support the wellbeing of the carer, by giving piece of mind. AT can support all people with very low needs through to people with complex physical and/or mental health needs. AT can also support carers to stay connected with others, enhance safety through monitoring or help to complement care and reduce strain.

Examples of assistive technology

Below are some examples of standalone/ simple gadgets usually an item that provides a prompt / reminder or supports to carry out a task more independently or an aid to provide reassurance and comfort.

  • cleverly designed or ‘low tech’ daily living aids such as easy grip cutlery, anti-spill cups and medication organisers
  • lifeline pendant or wrist worn alarms that can be used to alert a family member, carer or call centre following a fall
  • memory clocks and devices that prompt to help with remembering time, date, appointments and mealtimes
  • smartphone or voice-activated (high tech) systems to control areas in the home such as door opening, turning heating or lights on/off and opening/closing windows
  • monitored items such as Global Positioning System (GPS) devices that can help a family to locate a person who has not returned home or may have gotten lost
  • applications (apps) on mobile phones - such as an app to help those who share caring responsibilities, to coordinate care and communicate better, or to help someone to initiate tasks/manage coping strategies
  • Hydration monitor to remind drinking, Day clock for prompting to important times of day, assistive cup and cutlery to support with tremors and pill dispenser medication reminder, Empathy doll or comfort pet to provide reassurance and enhance wellbeing.  

How does the assistive technology service work?

Monitored AT can make a real difference to people’s lives, both for the person using the monitored service to help maintain their independence at home, but also their families/friends that may be supporting with informal care by giving piece of mind.  

By monitored AT, we are referring to AT such as a lifeline pendant (and /or sensors)  which is set up in the home through a base unit and connected to a phone line within the home and connected to a monitoring centre open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are different providers that can monitor and take an emergency call from local to national call centre’s dependent on how and who you choose to set this up with.  

To install the monitored lifeline service you must have a telephone line and a PowerPoint within six feet of each other. If you press your personal alarm, or one of the sensors detects a problem, then the lifeline will call the control centre. Then a trained member of staff at the control centre will be able to respond. The trained staff member who answers the call will assess the situation, check if your okay and take appropriate action. This could include calling a family member, a friend or the emergency services. 

Some newer AT solutions are available which, do not require a hard-wired phone line. There are self-purchase options that are available that can contact family, by using a sim card and cutting out the monitoring centre including Sim card pill dispensers, which alert family to a problem with medication vie email or text message, or various sensors and apps that are available.  

You may wish to consider purchasing and installing a key safe to enable fast and easy access to your home in an emergency. The control centre can store information about your key safe PIN, which they can pass onto friends, family or the rapid response service in an emergency.