Assistive technology

Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment or software that is used to increase, maintain, or improve an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks or to communicate, learn and live independent, fulfilling and productive lives.

Areas that technology can support

  • Epilepsy - examples include watch alarms and sensor mats
  • Falls prevention - emergency alarms for people at risk of falling
  • Forgetfulness - examples include sensors and alarms
  • Hearing - visual alarms in the home connected to fire alarms, telephones and doorbells
  • Physical frailty - connected home help at the touch of a button
  • Sight - talking clocks and reminders
  • Learning disability - personalised interactive devices to assist the user to be independent

Personal alarm (Lifeline)

One of the simplest forms of Telecare is a personal alarm.

The alarm consists of a button, often in the form of a pendant worn around the neck, or on the wrist, and a base unit that works with your telephone system. Your base unit will receive a signal from your pendant and will be linked to a monitoring centre.

When you push your pendant, your call will go via your telephone line to the monitoring centre, which is staffed by trained operators who will answer your alarm call on any day of the year, 24 hours a day.

How do I access this service?

Contact us by phoning 0300 126 7000 for West Northants and 0300 126 3000 for North Northants.

Important things to consider:

  • Identify the issue you are trying to address, for instance an individual might want to take their own medication but sometimes they might forget.
  • Be clear who the technology is supporting, the individual or the carer. Sometimes it will be both parties. The person using or benefiting from the technology must be involved in the process and give their consent to the solution. If someone is not able to give consent a 'best interest' decision should be made as described in the Mental Capacity Act.
  • Will any modifications be required to the home or doorway to install the device? Will spare batteries be required?
  • Some gadgets may require a maintenance agreement with manufacturers or the company who provide the service.
  • Plan a 'response protocol' with the individual being supported. This is a safeguard to make sure a person's needs are met if they don't respond to their gadget or their gadget fails. For instance, if someone does not respond to their prompt to take their medication, an additional prompt or an alert to a carer might be necessary.
  • Has the technological solution achieved the expected outcome? Sometimes additional benefits are experienced such as increased independence and confidence, this might suggest that other solutions could be useful.
  • Do the relevant people involved in the individual's life know about the technology being used and why?