Debate: how technology skills can support a carer

Last Tuesday (18/3),  Digital Birmingham together with its UK Discover partners – Bham City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology , Health, Design & Technology Institute (HDTI) and The Open University held an event to spark dialogue about digital and ict related training for formal and informal carers, how new technologies and the use of technology can support them in their lives as a carer as well as those they care for.

There was a great mix of people in the audience, from carers (formal and non formal) to carer support agencies to health and care providers to skills agencies to Universities to training providers which encouraged an dialogue about the imorertance of it skills in this day and age.

With Bob Gann, from NHS England chairing, the event kicked off with its first presentation from Verina Waights (Discover PartnerOpen University) who spoke about the Discover EU project  (www.discover4carers.eu) and the benefits of digital skills to carers.

Madeleine Starr MBE of Carers UK then went on to speak about the key roles of technology in a caring environment bringing to light that even tech savvy people are not aware of how technology can support them as well as those that they care for. She also emphasised that statutory and private services need to adopt technoloigies and change skills of whole workforce to promote tech. View Madeleine’s presentation here

Matthew Kemp of Midland Heart went through a care plan for an older person outlining all possible interactions between family, friends, care authorites, NHS etc by way of a cleverly designed ‘web of care (or despair)’. He then went on to explain the 10 recommendations from the User and market analysis report: Planning and co-ordination of informal and formal care for older people (this will be made availaible shortly – currently pending final checks and signoff). View Matthew’s presentation here

A research study piece by Midland Heart and commissioned by Birmingham City Council through part funding from ERDF and Carillion, explores the relationship between care and technology capturing the challenges faced by informal and formal carers in managing care planning and coordination. Read the full report here

Nigel Wynne of Birmingham City University (Discover Partner) spoke the importance of embedding digi skills and technology in care  followed by a showcase of the Discover e-learning  platform (email discover@birmingham.gov.uk if you’d like to trial this for yourself or for carers in your organisation).

Robin Vickers of Digital Life Sciences went on to speak about about exisitng technology enabled care tools (DALLAS programme) and what the future of digital healthcare will look like with the emphasis of the user at the heart of their health/caring journey.

Kevin Campbell-Wright of NIACE gave a presentation about technology and learning, spoke highly of digial champions in organisations and out there in the community to act as mentors to support learners. He also spoke about reluctance to want to use the internet for security (identity theft, online fraud etc) reasons however with the Digital by Default agenda, communities will have no choice but to do things online. View Kevin’s presentation here

Dame Philippa Russell DBE talked about improving lives of carers and the cared for through the use of  telehealth, and smart homes and about the importance of independence and well-being outlined by Norman Lamb MP and then followed on by explaining the challenges she sees; that 2/3 of carers unaware of benefits of assistive technologies; loss of community libraries, where will people go to use a computer and the internet; Digital by Default agenda and that many areas in the UK still do not have decent broadband connections. View Philippa’s presentation here

If you would like more information about the Discover digital skills for carers project, please email birmingham@discover4carers.eu

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