Service deliveryAdult Social CareLoneliness-prevention device aids carers tackle isolation

Loneliness-prevention device aids carers tackle isolation

Emerging technology, will help unpaid carers overcome isolation since loneliness can be hugely damaging to the health and happiness of carers

Push to Talk, a loneliness-prevention device, is helping unpaid carers from Liverpool overcome social isolation.

Push to talk, also known as press to transmit, is a method of having conversations or talking on half-duplex communication lines, including two-way radio, using a momentary button to switch from voice reception mode to transmit mode. It is a new technology that connects informal carers with one another, at the press of a button.

Developed by local firm Defproc Engineering, the technology is currently being trialled in Liverpool as part of the Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care project, which is run by 11 health, social care and technology professionals in the city. Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care, Europe’s first dedicated 5G health and social care pilot, was recently awarded an extra £1.48 million in government funding, and £54,000 from consortium partners, taking the total funding received so far to £4.9 million.

Social isolation: A growing issue

Unpaid carers living in the UK are seven times more likely to feel lonely than the rest of the population, according to the latest Carers Week report, published last week.

Over half of those carers say they don’t like talking to their friends about caring and never get the time to socialise.

Patrick Fennah, from DefProc, said, “Push to Talk is a valuable tool for those who feel isolated.

“It’s important to create opportunities for people caring for someone to connect with others who share their experiences. Social isolation is a growing issue, innovative technologies can offer a lifeline to people.”

Loneliness quizzing and gaming app

Games development company CGA Simulation has also created a loneliness quizzing and gaming app that allows groups of people who are facing social isolation to join in an online quiz or bingo game.

The app is being trialled by a group of people with learning disabilities at Kensington Community Learning Centre in Liverpool.

Jane Davies, from CGA Simulation, explains: “Working with people with a learning disability from KCLC to develop the app has been a brilliant process. We have been able to adapt the colours, font size and other features used in the game to better aid people with different conditions to use the app. In a co-creation session, we wrote new quiz questions and topics for the quiz, taking the group’s age and ability into consideration.”

Earlier in March, free masterclasses launched by Vodafone to helped tackle loneliness. At these free masterclasses across the UK, the Vodafone tech team advisors will set up wearable tech and connected home devices and explain how they work.

Role of technology in alleviating loneliness

The Harnessing technology to tackle loneliness report was launched at the House of Commons with the support of Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matthew Hancock MP and Loneliness Minister Mims Davies MP.

It sets out how technology can play a vital role in alleviating loneliness in older people. The report says that technology can do this by keeping them connected to their family and friends for longer. However, it also highlights that a significant number of older people are not confident in using technology. The issues include accessing the internet.

It recommends the use of technology alongside more traditional community services to facilitate social interaction. It points out that learning how to use it more fully can reduce loneliness and promote an active lifestyle. This can help older people remain independent in their homes and communities. It would in-turn increase the confidence and the likelihood of positive interactions.

Technology used as a way of keeping in touch can help to maintain and build networks. It can also help to maintain contacts with friends and family. It can also allow accessing new communities and groups.

Working with IBM, Karantis360 has developed an IoT-based Assisted Living solution that will collect data on the movements and day-to-day activities of people in care.

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