Margaret Martin, Community Manager, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, describes how East Riding has inspired change within technology enabled care in Yorkshire.

At East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) we have prioritised the use of connected care, and are delighted that our Lifeline service has recently been shortlisted for the annual TSA Crystal Award for Inspiring Change and Progress within Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS).

We have been striving towards ‘normalising’ TECS for health, housing and social care professionals as well as for carers and the people using the service, and it is a great honour to have been recognised for this hard work.

The impact of telecare – a real story

It’s always heartening to hear about how connected care has had a real impact on people’s lives and this video on the NHS Choices website tells the story of Tracey and her family in Yorkshire who are supported by the Lifeline service. Tracey and her partner provide care and support to Tracey’s mother who has dementia. However Tracey is a full-time nurse and can’t be on hand to care for her mother and ensure she is safe 24 hours a day, particularly as her mother’s needs have increased over time. The telecare system raises alerts if Tracey’s mother should fall out of bed, or leave her home alone, as well as monitoring for fire, flood and carbon monoxide. This means Tracey’s mother has been able to remain in her own home, and Tracey and her partner can continue to work and live an independent life.

How did we increase the use of TECs in East Riding?

We integrated TECs into our health and social care commissioning plans and it also formed a part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, ensuring that TECS is always considered when it is appropriate.

As a result, the use of connected care has increased in health, hospitals and as part of reablement processes. An example of this is the Lifeline service’s work with East Riding Hospital, Bridlington Hospital, Withernsea Hospital and Castle Hill Hospital to provide them with telecare packages on the community wards. We tailor these packages to the patient’s needs, usually including a bed or chair occupancy sensor linked to a CareAssist pager, alerting nurses if a patient leaves their bed as they may be at risk of falling or disorientation.

We also use telecare at Maister Lodge, a 16-bed inpatient unit for older people that provides a comprehensive, needs-led service to Hull or East Riding residents who have mental health needs including dementia.

Boosting commissioners’ and professionals’ trust in TECS

We set up an awareness programme in the East Riding for professionals, people using the service and their carers which has and continues to:

  • Raise the profile of TECS to residents and carers through the use of case studies in the local media
  • Increase carer understanding and confidence in the benefits of telecare
  • Develop fully-accessible information for the general public
  • Incorporate telecare training as part of all council and health provider inductions
  • Target independent and third sector provider staff with TECS training to enable appropriate signposting
  • Ensure that GPs are fully aware of the use and benefits of connected care

So what has this proven about the longevity of TECS?

This work has clearly demonstrated that it is possible to embed connected care into existing care pathways, work in partnership with health and social care to deliver person-centred and integrated care packages, and support people with complex and changing needs in the community.

Our experience of embedding TECs into integrated services, is that it has helped us to achieve:

  • Safe and timely hospital discharges
  • Prevention of avoidable hospital admissions
  • Preventative approaches, self-care and early interventions
  • Users independence to be maintained/improved
  • Residential care admissions to be delayed/avoided
  • Carers to be supported

Across East Riding the Lifeline service has 11,136 individuals on the system, with 4,728 Lifeline units installed in people’s homes by April 2015.

Being shortlisted for the Crystal Awards means so much to us, because it recognises the hard work that we have done to increase the use of and trust in connected care in East Riding of Yorkshire. We look forward to the awards presentation on the 16 November – wish us luck!

Photo: Margaret and staff in East Riding show the telecare equipment they use in the hospitals.