Our thanks for this blog go to David Williams, Project Manager for Assistive Technology and Accommodation with Care in SEWIC. David shared his perspectives on technology to support people living with dementia at the TSA conference on 18 November. Slides from the session are shown above (and David’s feature from page 31).

SEWIC stands for South East Wales Improvement Collaborative and the SEWIC Board is made up of nine Directors of Social Services across SE Wales. I am on secondment from Torfaen, and have supported development of a regional reference group on assistive technology and have worked in planning and commissioning over the past 10 years.

Linking up in South East Wales

Partnership working is key to effective dementia support, so at conference I outlined some of the connectivity linking the NHS and local authorities. SEWIC has a facilitative role, and a good engagement with suppliers, as well as with care and accommodation providers.

In my view, the new Social Care and Wellbeing Act in Wales provides some real opportunity with a strong focus on prevention, early intervention, information/advice and new models of care.

At TSA I highlighted the challenge of the increasing numbers of people with early onset dementia – who remain physically active and want to live their lives as they have always done – but their condition can limit them to home and immediate surroundings. Traditional telecare, which is centred on the home, can compound this so it is vital to engage with carers and families to look at the needs of the person living with dementia as an individual.

Different solutions such as medication reminders, GPS phones or wrist worn devices all have their place, but individual assessment is key.

I also outlined an upcoming development in Caerphilly for younger adults with dementia – under 65 – which is being taken forward by a local housing association, working closely with the Local Health Board, with Alzheimer’s Society and with the local authorities in the region. Telecare overlay has been planned in, drawing on good examples from across the SE wales region.

I echoed the value of the Dementia-friendly technology charter, and the important focus in extending knowledge and awareness through the development of dementia-friendly communities. This has certainly been a feature in the local environment of the Caerphilly scheme, and Brecon in Powys is the first town in Wales to take forward such an approach.

Key messages included:

  • The importance of working together and sharing information
  • Identifying individual needs and what people want to do – so that there are technology tailored solutions that support wellbeing as well as safety
  • Keeping it simple – and using the least restrictive and intrusive options. Just because we can ‘put in’ a lot of technology doesn’t mean to say that we always should!

Find out more about the Dementia-friendly technology charter