Making a difference through social care technology in Kent

Adult social care technology conference

Cabinet Member Dan Watkins (left) attends a KCC Adult Social Care Technology Event

Three hundred people across Kent are being empowered to live more independently and safely in their own homes within just a few months of the new Kent County Council (KCC) Technology Enhanced Lives Service (TELS) launching.

Designed with people who draw on care and support, social care professionals and a leading care technology provider, the PA Consulting-led Argenti Partnership, the initiative creates care tech packages tailored to a person’s individual needs. Argenti has provided similar services to other local authorities, serving more than 50,000 people over the last ten years.

Following successful trials in Thanet, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe, the service is now available across the county. It can be offered on both a short-term basis to support people with their recovery from a hospital stay, and on a long-term basis for people eligible for ongoing care and support. A private pay offer has also been developed to enable people to make an informed decision when purchasing care technology that helps them reach their personal goals.

Over time it is hoped that similar technology will help thousands of people in Kent to retain their independence if they have conditions that might otherwise prevent this, such as frailty, limited mobility, poor mental health and learning disabilities and offer carers much needed respite.

Peter Zein, co-chair of the Adult Social Care Digital Group who helped shape the service, said: “Before I had technologies around my house, I felt like a prisoner in my disabled body. I have really enjoyed working with Kent County Council to develop Technology Enhanced Lives because technology can improve people’s quality of life.”

Peter explains that he uses technology every day to do daily tasks such as putting the heating on, turning lights on or off throughout his home and using the electric blind to shut out the sun in the living room (his ‘man cave’). In the event that Angela, Peter’s wife, is out of the house, Peter can confidently turn appliances on and off to cook and open windows to manage temperatures. Peter has a robot hoover which is silently cleaning and Peter shares that it is these little things that make a huge difference. Peter’s communication aid connects to his smartphone which enables him to communicate in the way most preferred by him.

“Technology does give you more quality of life. If I didn't have all that amazing technology in my house, I don't think I could be chairperson for the digital group for Adult Social Care and Public Health”.

Among the devices being used to give people more control and choice in their daily lives are:

  • Memory aids and smart speakers – that can help people orientate themselves during the day and remind them of things they need to do, such as take medication at certain times.
  • Personal alarms and alert equipment – including fall detectors and door sensors to detect people going out at unusual times. These connect to a 24/7 monitoring centre staffed with trained call handlers who can provide support, or if needed raise the emergency services.
  • GPS devices – these track people’s location and can allow them to contact a monitoring centre if they need support or alert a family member if they get lost or deviate from an expected route. These can allow people to regain or continue to access the community in order to do the activities they want to.
Richard Smith

Using advances in digital technology to improve home care is a win-win for everyone.

Richard Smith Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and Public Health

Making a difference every day

The Technology Enhanced Lives Service is a key part of Kent County Council’s Adult Social Care Making a difference every day strategy and vision. This was co-produced with people in Kent and shaped around what’s important to people who draw on care and support. It aims to embed a person-centred approach to social care, contributing to a full and happy life. This vision challenges the workforce in Kent to be innovative in practice by working with people to identify solutions that are right for them.

KCC Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Richard Smith, said: “Using advances in digital technology to improve home care is a win-win for everyone. As well as helping residents live better and more independent lives, it gives carers, family and friends support day and night, seven days of the week and can reduce pressures on social care and emergency services.”

Luke Muir, care technology expert and Service Director for the PA Consulting-led Argenti Partnership in Kent, said: “We are delighted to reach the milestone of installing equipment for our 300th Kent resident so soon after launching the new TELS service.

“Technology has enormous potential to help people regain their independence and enjoy life more. Argenti has extensive experience in delivering these outcomes for people and we are looking forward to helping thousands more Kent residents, as well as working with the council to develop new ways of using technology to improve lives.

“Collaborating with KCC allows us to combine our expertise in the transformative benefits of care technology with the council’s commitment to innovation and supporting its community and improving lives.”

For more information on staying independent and finding support in Kent, visit Kent Connect to Support.