Telecare equipment improves lives of island patients

THE quality of life for four clients living across the Western Isles has been substantially improved by a pilot project which implemented specialist assisted living equipment.

NHS Western Isles’ Occupational Therapy (OT) Department set up the pilot project – funded by the Scottish Government Telecare Development Programme – to develop the provision of ‘Environmental Control Systems’ (ECS) for people with complex disabilities in the Western Isles.

Explaining, NHS Western Isles OT Services Manager Sonja Smit said: “An Environmental Control System can be controlled by touch, voice, different keys and switches to control the environment eg, electronic door locks and door openers, lights, heating, entertainment systems, curtains/blinds, personal alarms and telephone.

And the results of the pilot project have been ‘overwhelmingly positive’ with one client reporting that he was able to independently make a telephone call to a mainland friend for the first time in around three years using his ECS – rating the system a top mark 10 in satisfaction.

Another client enjoyed the sense of control he now has with his door entry system, feeling much more secure; and a third stressed that his quality of life has ‘vastly improved’ and reported that he now ‘takes for granted’ many of the functions he can now do independently, such as going in and out of his house when he chooses.

And the fourth client in the pilot is also ‘absolutely delighted’ with his new ability to open and close curtains, as well as control lights and heating within his home.

Occupational Therapist Val Dix said: “The four clients who participated in the pilot have long term or progressive neurological conditions, and were dependent on carers for simple daily functions.

“The quality of life of all four clients was impaired.”

She continued: “For this pilot, clients were assessed and were provided with different equipment to suit their individual requirements. At the end of the pilot, each of the clients was asked to rate their satisfaction with the equipment and the results were overwhelmingly positive.”

Exploring changes against the traditional model of Rehabilitation Consultant led projects, the ECS pilot was led by the NHS Western Isles’ OT Department, as Ms Smit added: “We work with a mainland company who come over and do the assessment and match the technology with the assessed ability of the individual client.

“The team feels that clear criteria for provision and joint assessment between OT, our Telecare Technician and an external engineer resulted in a safe, effective and person centred service provision.”