Working as a Telehealthcare Development Consultant for Tunstall, I have found that no two projects are the same; St Anne’s Community Service was no exception. St Anne’s are an innovative service provider, who support people with a range of disabilities, including learning disabilities. They wanted to maximise the use of technology in their services. They approached us to support them to demonstrate to their local authority that they were forward thinking and embracing technology to identify efficiencies and empower their clients to be more independent. Their main objective was to look at night-time routines, and understand if the support in place was too little, too much or just right.

This was an exciting brief, and one I was very pleased to be a part of. Not only would we be looking at technology, but it was also an opportunity for me to really see the impact and benefit for the end user. Together with St Anne’s, we outlined the project approach which would include the deployment of six Canary Care systems as well as our consultancy services.

Canary Care is a monitoring device which uses unobtrusive discreet movement sensors in the home to understand a person’s daily routine. Using this technology would allow us to see the needs of the clients at night time and identify what level of support they needed from staff.

The project looked at 16 supported living properties which each had sleep-in night support. The systems were deployed to each property for a six-week period. During this time, as part of our consultation services, I would use the Canary portal to monitor the activity in each property on a weekly basis. It was interesting to see the patterns and behaviours from an objective point of view. On some occasions, there were even incidents of staff movements disturbing the clients, and not the other way around!

After the systems had been in place for six weeks, I would develop a report which demonstrated my findings, including activities of the clients and the level of support needed from staff. Following this, the team at St Anne’s would create a response report, including more information about what they knew about the client, such as their health needs and personalities. Finally, we would meet and discuss each case thoroughly and agree recommendations for more person-centred support, including the use of technology to empower the clients’ independence. Using Canary Care as a long-term monitoring solution was also considered in addition to traditional telecare.

The project has been an enjoyable one and has taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of collaborative working. Technology, such as Canary Care, is an innovative and useful tool in understanding a person’s routine from an unbiased perspective. However, it is only when it works alongside the human elements and what we know about a person that it really works best.