Monthly Archives: May 2016

How can digital technology help a person living with multiple sclerosis?

Such a simple, obvious and wise statement – it would be so exciting if every individual offered a personal health or care budget was able to access a digital care navigator. Sadly the social sector (including health, care and charities) have not yet managed to bridge the gap between the rhetoric of digital transformation and the everyday experiences and reality for citizens..

I was recently asked for advice about how digital technology could help  a person with late onset multiple sclerosis deteriorating rapidly. She loved crafts, needlework painting etc but is losing use of her hands.  She has a laptop but using the mouse is getting tricky.

It emphasised for me how important it is for people to be aware of, and able to access, online resources to support independent living and #ageingbetter so I thought it would be helpful to share resources.

It is definitely worth contacting AbilityNet a small and impressive UK charity helping disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology. They provide a range of factsheets and advice and information services.

@AbilityNet run the inspiring @Tech4GoodAwards which celebrate the people and technology making the world a better place. 2016 finalists will be announced on the 8th June!

AbilityNet have been shortlisted as Digital Charity of the Year 2016 by Digital Leaders 100. The winners will be chosen by a public vote and you can vote for them now on the Digital Leaders website and help spread the message about the amazing way that technology can transform the lives of disabled and older people.

[Declaration of interest: I have a real fondness for small charities with a big vision who know how to be creative and deliver results with limited funds!]

A helpful post on using a computer if you have tremors

UCanDoIT is a charity that teaches IT skills to people with disabilities on a one to one basis in their own homes. @ucdit

Another site with useful information about technology and disability

(and I am sure there are many more to be added!)

Tips and tricks for folks with Multiple Sclerosis (Microsoft 365)

From gaming system to medical breakthrough: How Microsoft and Novartis created Assess MS

Touchscreens such as iPads are tactile, versatile and very simple to use and the apps make it easy to play accessible games, which help memory, agility and interaction. iPads can be used for all manner of activities such as games, apps, accessing websites and playing music and video.

However before buying any apps it is always worth reading the reviews, checking compatibility requirements with laptop/tablet being used  and whether the app is really free or being offered as a subscription model!

Some fun interactive apps

Pigment (free to download but with a Premium Access paid subscription) allows you to colour as you would on paper with actual colored pencils. Choose from 350+ hand curated, professionally drawn illustrations, 8 different kinds of pencils, markers and brushes, and an unlimited number of colors to choose from. Completed artwork can be friends and family.

Painterly £1.49) allows you to create beautiful evocative pictures even if you do not have advanced drawing skills or formal art training Allows for painting with more than 60 virtual brushes, as well as importing photos and then painting them

List of googled needlework apps for iPad (not my specialist area does anyone have any recommendations?)

Games

Imutt (free but charity will invite a donation) This game from the Dogs Trust allows users to look after an impossibly cute virtual rescue dog for five days. Perfect and no need to walk in bad weather!

FlowerGarden (free with further in-app purchases) allows you to pick virtual seeds, plant them, water them and watch them grow. This is especially significant for participants who used to enjoy growing plants and are missing their former gardens.

An honourable mention for the informative @AXSChat which runs the informative weekly #AXSchat discussing accessibility & inclusion in business on the web & beyond.

I have reached out to the Multiple Sclerosis charities for advice and will update this post  when I receive responses.

I met Paul Smyth Head of IT Accessibility at Barclays Bank recently and was very impressed by his thoughtful and measured approach to accessibility and inclusive technology. I recommend listening to his interview.

It is so obvious really that digital technology can make all the difference to the quality of life for people living with disabilities and why I believe it is so important to make #connectedcare a reality.

Obviously this post is only a snapshot of available resources (I am not a assitive technology specialist but I work with companies excited to use technology to improve their services).

And I am always very aware that what digital technology offers are endless possibilities to make person-focused care a reality. 

I welcome your thoughts about resources you have found helpful. please add to the comments section below or share with me via Twitter @shirleyayres

 

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How social media can support #ConnectedCare

In these challenging times I believe we have a responsibility to show how the digital revolution which is impacting on all of our lives can bring people together to build and support more connected communities.

Care and support in the 21st century requires much more connected thinking across social services, health, housing, education, employment and the wider social sector. Technology and social media can facilitate this process. I am often puzzled when I see different sectors running events with similar themes on the same day and not making the connections which could avoid duplicating resources or reinventing wheels. It can so often seem that sectors are just talking to themselves rather than reaching out and creating new networks and collaborations.

Admittedly we have been slow creating a mindshift away from technology as a means to an end and thinking about how digital technology can help address the wicked challenges of our age. How does technology have a role in addressing social isolation, loneliness, supporting people living with dementia and their carers, developing the skills and talent of young people and creating communities we all want to live in? Is the missing link the absence of digital leadership in the social sector?

To promote new ways of thinking I have used and continue to use social media to highlight resources which I believe could benefit from a wider audience than the “usual suspects” In this spirit and because there are so many events taking place I am sharing my selection of  interesting and innovative events which you can follow on Twitter. The obvious (to me anyway) connection between all of these events is that we all live in communities which include children, young people, families, people living alone and carers. We all have something to share and we can learn from each other. 

Today MOMO are hosting  a national conference exploring digital social work challenges and good practice. @MindOfMyOwnApp have developed an app that gives children and young people the confidence & ability to express their needs. It is so important that looked after children have a voice and I am impressed by the impact of this app. Follow via

 

The inestimable @johnpopham is live streaming this event.

http://www.mindofmyown.org.uk

This week is #dyingmattersweek. Every year @DyingMatters host an Awareness Week, which gives us an unparalleled opportunity to place the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement firmly on the national agenda. This year the theme is ‘The Big Conversation’ and you can share your thoughts via #BigConversation.

 http://www.dyingmatters.org

Neighbourhoods of the Future is being held on the 11th and 12th May.  This event will take a fresh look at age friendly homes and communities as a means of tackling the challenges of ageing better. Topics being explored include the emerging possibilities of smart homes and age friendly cities. With hundreds of organisations now involved in the #AgeingBetter industry it will be fascinating to see how many will be sharing their thoughts via #agileageingroadshow http://www.lansons.com/looking-forward-growing-older

The Festival of Behaviour Change starts today in Bangor 9th – 20th May 2016. Behaviour Change Science is a combination of psychology, social sciences, design thinking and practical application that could revolutionise the design and delivery of public services. It can help individuals to make better decisions by altering the way in which choices are presented to them. This is an important exploration because there are rightly ethical concerns about who determines what is the “right” behaviour.  I am particularly interested in the sessions on Behaviour Change and Service Delivery ModelsBehaviour Change in Health and the Future of Health Care and The use of Technology in the Pursuit of Behaviour Change. Follow the discussions via . I understand some of the sessions will be live streamed via Periscope.

http://www.goodpractice.wales/bangor

Advance notice of Dementia Awareness Week taking place from the 15th – 21st May 2016. This is an important opportunity to increase understanding of dementia and find out what support is available for people living with dementia and their carers. There are a wide range of special events taking place across the country.

Follow #DAW2016 to contribute to the debates and share your thoughts about what works and what needs to change.

If there are other events which I think are interesting, informative and innovative I will add them to the list during the week!

On Being Social To help make your event more social I am sharing some top tips produced by @PaulBromford and I. (We are planning to update this in 2016!)