Innovative Support that Makes a DifferenceCaroline Laurenson
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Firstly, I want to say welcome back if you are reading this and sorry that I haven’t written a news article for a long time. Time just gets away from us sometimes doesn’t it. It can be hard to feel like you’re being productive, but I think just staying well and looking after each other is an accomplishment. I have enjoyed looking back at my news articles from last year and realised that I did really enjoy writing them.
I had a very inspirational week last week, as well as going to London for the FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards dinner as a finalist in the Tech for Good category, I was able to go into Aberdeen for an event and catch-up with people I haven’t seen since before the pandemic.
In this week’s instalment, I’ll provide insight into:
- A new facility in Aberdeen to help showcase the ways in which technology can help people to maintain their independence in their own homes.
- The work of the amazing Pasna Sallis and her Weekday Wow Factor programme that offers virtual experiences to help keep people well.
- A whole new way for people to access mental health support on the high street.
Last Week’s News & Views
Aberdeen Living Tech Space
I had the pleasure of attending the opening of a new Living Tech Space at the Specialist Resource Solutions (SRS) offices in Aberdeen on Friday last week. The new space showcases some of the use cases and ways in which consumer electronic off-the-shelf tech can benefit people. There were also a range of equipment devices from Bon Accord Care on display giving ideas of even more ways that people can be supported at home. What was really lovely is that they’ve laid out the space so it feels really homely. There is also a larger empty space set-up to trial the VR tech from Oculus and then two office desks for doing virtual care visits/calls. With the idea being that with the people being supported more comfortable using tech, then 1-2-1 support could also be given remotely.
The space is a follow-on from the Scottish Care pilot to see if dedicated Care Technologists (CTs) within organisations can improve outcomes in care. They are also looking at whether these kinds of digital roles could help to improve staff retention through upskilling and freeing up time for the more human aspects of care. I think the hope is to get follow-on funding to do a more quantitative piece of academic research into this. SRS created two new Care Technologist roles to explore how technology could be used in care provision to improve the quality of life for the people supported.
During the event we heard some powerful stories about the seemingly simple ways that tech has been making a difference. We’ve seen this in our own work, that sometimes it really is as simple as someone being able to turn on the kettle for themselves, or listen to their favourite music, or call a loved one.
I loved getting to see the new space and talking about Alexa as there were lots of technologies with voice assistance embedded within the room, including a very nice coffee machine which I may need to add to my wish list!
It makes such a difference for people being able to see things in context and to try things out in an environment that feels relatable. This is definitely going to be a valuable resource for Aberdeen city and the surrounding areas.
I was also excited to hear that Scottish Care are looking at setting up a national group to share learnings between organisations of how smart home tech can be used in care.
Weekday Wow Factor
I first met Pasna last year over Zoom, our paths had crossed at an online networking event and we connected on LinkedIn. Her work is amazing and I love how she really focuses on the individual, tailoring and adapting activities for everyone to enjoy. She set up the Weekday Wow Factor in 2017 as a way to bring exciting, fun leisure activities to older people during the day when facilities such as cinemas, night clubs and bowling alleys would have a lot less customers. The activities have multiple societal benefits as well as providing an opportunity for people to socialise. But it was during the pandemic that the Weekday Wow Factor has really had the biggest impact, with Pasna moving activities online and offering virtual experiences “walking” around new cities, “cycling” across the world and many more fun adventures. Her iconic daytime discos are now back thanks to the relaxation of the covid restrictions, you can check out the Weekday Wow Factor website by clicking here to get more information about how to join in the fun both in person and online.
The reason why I wanted to write about Pasna this week is that she has been invited to No 10 Downing Street to the Celebrating the Best of Scotland reception next week in recognition of her work. This is a huge achievement and thoroughly deserved.
Mental Health on the High Street
The last thing I wanted to talk about was from an article I read recently: https://www.mylondon.news/whats-on/whats-on-news/head-room-cafe-mental-health-22785653
Head Room is a new café and co-working space in London, specially designed to support mental health and reduce social isolation. They offer a space for people to build new relationships and take part in a range of programmes and events. During the pandemic they also were instrumental in helping to make sure that people could get online. Head Room has been created by mental health charity Jami to help people to access support services and remove the stigma of mental illness. It is a safe and inviting community space that focusses on peer support and celebrates diversity.
I think that we’re going to see more of these kinds of innovative wellbeing spaces on our high streets as a way to strengthen communities and to act as a hub where communities can thrive through a shared sense of purpose.
There are so many people out there passionate about supporting others in innovative ways. Their drive to make a difference sometimes seems superhuman and I’m hugely inspired by all the people that I have met on my journey into tech. There is also something incredibly special when you find a synergy between two people that can amplify the work that you are doing. I love to champion and shine a light on initiatives like the ones I have written about in this week’s blog.
I am honestly so thrilled that we are finally seeing a more joined up approach to delivering tech support in care. I could not be happier that Pasna is being recognised for all the work that she has done during the pandemic to keep people connected and active, she is a very special human being. I also love the idea of creating spaces which are easily accessible that are designed to boost wellbeing and normalise how we see mental health.
I’m hoping that I can keep up with the blogging regularly at least until the Easter holidays, when we have a trip away to Loch Lomond in the caravan to look forward to, as it is my brother’s long overdue wedding after two years of covid restrictions.
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