Tracey Russell, Telecare Trainer at Tunstall Healthcare UK, blogs about her recent visit to the launch of City University London’s new Digital Technology Lab ‘CityTECS’.

On Wednesday 23 March, City University London opened the doors publicly to their new CityTECs Lab – a hub equipped with the latest health and care technology. The suite is fitted with a multitude of devices such as sensors for movement and bed or chair occupancy, medication dispensers and blood pressure monitors and glucometers.

It was great to see this hub being launched, as Tunstall have been involved with the planning of the demonstration suite over the last year or so; ensuring that a diverse range of connected care and connected health solutions were selected and appropriately installed into the suite. It had to be interactive and work well over live stream for the university learning aspect of this project. We also provided training, research and development, and marketing support to help bring this exciting project to life.

The event was fantastic, with keynotes from Paul Burstow, Sir Bruce Keogh and Stanton Newman – as well as really enjoyable food! The turnout was surprisingly really successful for an evening just before Good Friday, with just over 70 people coming along to learn about how digital technology can be used in health and social care.

We were welcomed to the event by Stanton Newman, the Professor of Health Psychology and Dean of the School of Health Sciences at City University London. He spoke about the importance of digital health for elderly people, as more and more people are now looking for independence and choice in later life and technology can provide this. He also spoke about the purpose of the Lab, and how they are going to live stream what is happening to students at the university who will be able to study the interactions and see the equipment being used. He emphasised how important it is to train health and social care students now in order to develop a higher skilled workforce with a knowledge of digital health for the future.

Paul Burstow then spoke about how Birmingham City Council have approached the implementation of telecare services differently to other councils, contracting a supplier to manage the service. It was great to hear praise for this, as it is managed by Tunstall and it was myself who originally trained the team of Social Workers and Occupational Therapists in Birmingham around their referrals processes and how to use the equipment.

Finally, Sir Bruce Keogh officially opened the hub whilst speaking about how in order to truly understand how a service works, people need to get their hands on the equipment and get to grips with it by using them themselves – and that is the real advantage of this Digital Technology Lab. As I am a trainer I really believe in this approach, we need to get people using the technology so they can really understand its full potential and impact.

At the event, we displayed our range of equipment and talked through what was available and how they can connect together. We received a lot of questions, as the audience was really interested in the portfolio available – I spoke to professionals in social care and occupational therapy who had come to the event thinking that they understood telecare and telehealth but left the event realising that they had previously only scratched the surface – there is so much potential out there, we just need to increase professionals confidence in understanding what is available, how to use it and importantly – how to access it.

A great example of this was when I spoke to a nurse who had heard about epilepsy sensors and understood that they could be used to sense when someone was having a seizure. However what she hadn’t previously realised was how many other peripherals are available and how they can link up to form a Connected Home. It wasn’t until she had visited this showcase, viewing all of the sensors in one home that she could see how technology can integrate to form Connected Care. I look forward to more people visiting the CUL TECS laboratory and understanding Digital Health’s true potential.