Luke Joy-Smith, Regional Managing Director – West at Dimensions, a specialist provider of services for people with learning disabilities and people who experience autism, tells us about the launch of the new partnership with Tunstall.


On Wednesday 8 October I was at Pride Park, the home of Derby County Football Club. It was an entirely appropriate place to launch an initiative of which I am extremely proud to be a part.

We are currently in year three of our five year Personalisation Journey, which includes our ‘Just Enough Support’ key principle.  This is one of the ways we are helping the people we support to connect with their communities and have greater choice and control in their lives. The aim is to ensure that people are having neither too much, nor too little support, and to see support not only in terms of paid formal support, but in the rich way we all receive support i.e. from friends, family, and the wider community.

Thinking differently

Achieving this involves thinking differently about the practical and creative ways support can be planned to encourage a full life through exploring the alternatives to paid support and traditional service solutions. Telecare has a major part to play in this, promoting independence by managing risks and enabling support services to be delivered in new ways. It can also protect the privacy and dignity of the people we support, and give them more flexibility in how they spend their money by freeing up staff time to be used in different ways.

For example, using epilepsy sensors at several of our registered and group living services in Sheffield has generated significant savings and also impacted positively on the wellbeing of the people we support. Dimensions and Tunstall worked together to assess the individual needs of six services and identify solutions to meet these needs. Staff, families and the people we support were consulted to ensure they understood the reasons for change and to address any concerns. In many of the services waking night provision was in place to monitor the wellbeing of people with epilepsy, undertaking regular routine checks during the night in case of seizures. We introduced epilepsy sensors, providing continuous monitoring throughout the night, and alerting sleep-in staff via a vibrating pager if a seizure is detected.

Dignity and sustainability

This solution has removed the need for intrusive physical checks, increasing privacy and improving the quality of sleep that people experience, greatly increasing their wellbeing and happiness. The project has also generated significant savings. Overall investment in technology across all six services was approximately £33,000. Reconfiguring services to withdraw five waking nights has reduced costs by £3,800 per week. As the social care landscape continues to change we have to be realistic about the sustainability of services, and solutions which can deliver savings as well as improving the lives of the people we support have to be a part of our future strategy.

Making it real

The launch day in Derby saw over 160 managers come to learn more about this strategy, the partnership and the benefits of telecare and made real the ways that telecare can help us to drive up quality, improve outcomes, and increase the continuity of support in a person-centred way.

We’re continuously reviewing the way we offer our support, including the consideration of telecare as a way of increasing choice, control and independence, and are determined to  help more than 3,000 people to enjoy their best possible day, week and year.

Find out more about Dimensions