Assistive technology to support independence within the home

Assistive technology is a term used to explain any device that can assist you to live more independently within your home.  It can support you to maintain a safer home environment or help you to complete daily tasks and reduce the risk of accidents. 

Using technology and devices could increase your independence. It may reduce or prevent you needing care, both now and in the future.   

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Basic daily living devices to help you with tasks around your home

An example of a basic device that can be used to support daily living is an electric tin opener. It can help you to open canned food if you have a weak grip.  A higher chair or ‘perching stool’ can support you to sit close to a sink, as opposed to standing. This can help prevent falls and fatigue, and generally sitting to carry out a task may feel more comfortable.  

The Disabled Living Foundation Living made easy website has information on a wide range of daily living aids and devices. You can purchase these online or from your local mobility shop.  To find your local mobility shop, use the ‘Search for information and service’ at the top of this page.

The Alzheimer’s Society has information on the different types of assistive technology and how they can help people living with dementia.

Calling for help in an emergency - Telecare

‘Telecare’ or technology enabled care is the name given to a range of simple wireless sensors and alarms designed to help people live safely and independently in their homes.

Telecare can help you keep your independence and dignity. Telecare can also give you, your family and carers the reassurance that help is at hand should you need it. 

When you press your alarm or activate a sensor, it triggers a call to a call centre available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

The call operator will immediately know who is calling and the type of telecare sensor that has triggered the call.  They will attempt to speak to you and offer verbal help or send appropriate help to your home, depending on the nature of the alarm. You may also have a family member, friend or neighbour who can respond in an emergency.

If you subscribe to South Gloucestershire Council’s Telecare service, you can still have an emergency alarm system installed despite not having anyone to call on. If you fall or need medical assistance, the call centre can ring the emergency services.  South Gloucestershire also has a Rapid Response Service which, when capacity allows, can help you in some situations as long as you have a key safe box that holds a key to your home.

Find out more about South Gloucestershire Council’s Telecare systems, how they can support you and what they cost within the Telecare Services – Helping you stay independent leaflet. 

There is a one off installation charge and a monthly fee to subscribe to the Telecare service, paid by Direct Debit. The amount depends on the Telecare and sensor(s) installed.  The Telecare team will discuss your options and ensure that you are happy before any installation.

Many companies and organisations offer Telecare. The following providers and products may be of interest, depending on individual circumstances, however please note that by including them here, South Gloucestershire Council and its partners are in no way recommending or endorsing them:

To enquire about the Telecare service delivered by South Gloucestershire Council, contact Adult Care on telephone 01454 868007.  Upon receiving your enquiry, someone from the Telecare Team will contact you to discuss your options and demonstrate the device.

Stand alone assistive technology 

'Stand alone' assistive technology devices used in the home are not linked to a call centre.  This type of technology relies on you or a carer to set it up and respond appropriately.

There are a range of devices that can be purchased from local DIY and retail stores. For example automatic timers, which you can plug in to a lamp to turn on/off automatically. 

There are also devices such as motion sensor light bulbs and lamps which go on automatically when they detect movement. This can help prevent falls in the dark as well as maintaining safety and security.

Smart technology

Examples of smart technology include:

Video calling door bells  which allow you to see on a smart device, for example a phone, who is calling. This gives you the opportunity to choose whether to open the door.  

Home automation systems such as the Hive Connected system  or Nest let you control your living environment and ensure your home is safe and secure. You can operate these systems using your phone, computer, tablet or through a voice activated device such as Alexa or Google Home.

Home automation systems offer a range of facilities that can be controlled including thermostats, light bulbs, smart sockets as well as motion sensors and indoor cameras. 

You can find more information about home automation systems such as Hive or Nest on their respective websites.  

Smart speakers are internet-connected speakers that are controlled by spoken commands. They are capable of streaming audio content, relaying information, and communicating with other devices. These speakers, for example Amazon Echo (Alexa) and Google Home are becoming widely used to support independent living.

They can for example:

  • help you make a shopping list
  • make phone calls (if connected to a mobile phone app)
  • tell you the time of day
  • set automatic reminders, this may be for appointments or to take medication
  • set alarms, to wake you up or remind you to take food out of the oven
  • listen to music, play games and quizzes
  • link to other smart devices so you can turn on electrical items, such as lights and switches by a voice command

You can link your technology with other devices, including those belonging to friends and family. You may want to use this technology as an alternative or to compliment traditional Telecare so that other people can help you to monitor your home.  

The Hft Virtual Smarthouse website showcases some of the assistive technologies that people may use around their home to improve their independence and quality of life, and increase their safety.

The My House of Memories app allows you to explore objects from the past and share memories together. It can be used by anyone, but has been designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their carers.

Help to install and fit assistive technology devices

If you purchase an assistive technology device such as a video calling door bell, yet are unable to fit this yourself, the South Gloucestershire  HandyVan Service may be able to help you. There is usually a charge for this service.

You can contact the Handyvan team to discuss your requirement, to get their advice and also a quote.  Call 01454 864011 or email Handyvan@southglos.gov.uk.

See examples of assistive technology devices and Telecare systems

South Gloucestershire Council has an adapted house called the Celestine Home Adaptations Centre.  You can make an appointment to visit the house free of charge to explore and experience different assistive technology.  The team at the Celestine Centre can help you learn about the technology that is available for you to buy and how it may be used by older and disabled people.     

To make an appointment email psechousing@southglos.gov.uk or call 01454 868126.

Ask for help and advice on assistive technology

If you would like to talk with someone about assistive technology, South Gloucestershire’s telecare service will be happy to discuss your needs and which devices may work for you.

To contact the Telecare Team directly call 01454 868698 between 8.30am – 5pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30 – 4.30pm Friday.

If you would like an occupational therapy assessment as you want to know more about how to increase your independence and safety around the home, as well as advice on which types of assistive technology may support you. 

You can contact occupational therapy call 01454 868007 between 8.30am – 5pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30 – 4.30pm Friday.  To find out more about the role of an occupational therapist please see our occupational therapy page.

Assistive technology for people with severe physical disabilities

North Bristol National Health Service (NHS), provides an assistive technology service specifically for individuals with chronic health conditions, for example multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy, paralysis and muscular dystrophy. 

The Electronic Assistive Technology Service provides electronic assistive technology to enable people to live more independently at home.  Their Environmental Controls webpage can tell you more about the service and how they can help.

People are referred to this service by their GP or a health care professional involved in their care.  A family member can also complete the referral forms, but a letter from your GP is required upon receipt of a referral.

If you would like to contact this service call 0117 4145899 between 7.30 – 5.00pm or email: EnvironmentalControls@nbt.nhs.uk

 

 

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