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Sue O’ Connor, our Consultancy and Training Services Lead (pictured above, second left), writes about attending Birmingham Opportunities Fair.

This week members of our telehealthcare team had the pleasure of joining the fourth annual Birmingham Opportunities Fair, which is a part of Birmingham City Council’s services to Adult Social Care. The Moving Forward Together Opportunities Fair is a fantastic two-day event that is all about increasing choice, control and independence for local people. Those who attended the event, this year held at Birmingham City Football Club, could find out about support services and there were around 45 organisations showcasing the various different opportunities on offer.

We were there to support Birmingham Telecare Service, which is a partnership between Birmingham City Council and Tunstall. In our first room we ran a series of Dementia Friends sessions and, where appropriate, we gave away copies of the Dementia-Friendly Technology Charter and let people know about the different types of technology that can help them to care or maintain their independence. In our second room – the Wellbeing room – we showcased equipment to support wellbeing and had a series of alarms and sensors that people could actually try out and ask questions about. They could also take time out for a hand massage and win chocolates. Our third room was about building independence. Here, we collected people’s ideas about independent living by asking them what was important to maintaining their independence. People wrote their ideas on post it notes and placed them into a picture frame so that we could build a ‘bigger picture’ of people’s needs to feed back to the Council.

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Aimee from our Birmingham office reflected: “People don’t always know about technology that can help them live more independently at home but the people who do told me they think it’s great, so it’s been nice to get that feedback.”

Jackie from Birmingham was one of the people who we spoke to during the event. Jackie told us: “We use this technology for dad. He uses the watch. We find the service really helpful and reassuring. People at the other end of the phone are very friendly. It’s efficient – it just works.”

Tracey, one of our telehealthcare consultants, did a quick poll during the event by asking people who came into our rooms if they knew about telecare. From this it became apparent that awareness was lower among citizens than professionals – most of who already knew about this technology. This reinforced what we already know and, of course, there is much work to do nationally in raising public awareness of the technology that is available to people. However, events like Birmingham’s Opportunities Fair are perfect for people to discuss their needs and to find out more about how technology can help. Indeed, we spoke to dozens of people who left knowing a lot more than they did before attending the event, which was wonderful!

You can find out more about the Opportunities Fair on the Facebook page and by looking at the Twitter hashtag #BrumOppsFair.

You can also find out more about Birmingham Telecare Service.