Care for tomorrow: Life-changing freedom
Melody's interview with Digitising Social Care was first published in the Caring Times to mark Disability History Month:
16 November - 16 December
Digitising Social Care is a government programme delivering on the commitment to transform adult social care through digital innovation.
During Disability History Month we’ve been reflecting on how access to the internet and digital technology has changed the world for many disabled people - giving them greater autonomy, visibility and choice.
We spoke to Melody, a woman with disabilities in her twenties, who uses a power chair and relies on carers for support. She shared some insights into how digital technology has enabled her to have agency over her life as well as some of the opportunities it’s opened up for her:
“Being disabled with fluctuating energy levels and an immune system that doesn’t always like to fight the right things, I really struggled with feelings of isolation during the height of the pandemic. I started to use Twitch, a live-streaming platform for video gamers. It supports building communities around a shared and streamable interest. It really helped me connect with like-minded people while I was stuck inside. Being able to play video games with friends online and chat to them continues to help me feel connected and part of a community.
“The success of my Twitch channel gave me a platform to launch my own podcast series. From that I’ve now started to build a career as a disability spokesperson and inclusion consultant.
“Not only has having access to different technologies via my smart phone and smart speaker enabled me to be more connected it’s also allowed me to be independent, I no longer have to rely on a physical person to do simple tasks for me. I’m can now do things that other people take for granted, like turning on my own bedside lamp myself by using a smart plug. I can control devices like my fan at 3am without feeling guilty waking up the whole house calling someone to turn it off as I’m cold!
“Thanks to automatic door openers I can access my house and garden on my own, as well as having the ability to close my bedroom door for privacy whenever I want. I recently had smart light bulbs fitted and they’ve been life-changing! I can’t explain the joy I felt when I came home at night, opened the door myself and actually turned on the lights without having to ask for help; I felt like a “real functioning adult.” Next on my personal wish list is to invest in smart openers for the curtains in my bedroom.”
Digital technology is transforming adult social care and we are here to help providers make the most of it.
Earlier this year we launched our adult social care technology fund which supports the evaluation and scaling of care technologies. Successful applications for funding need to show how the care technology solution they propose will help to support one or more of our priorities - increasing the quality and safety of care, reducing hospital admissions and supporting people’s independence.
We continue to offer funding to help providers move away from paper-based care planning and reap the benefits of digital social care record solutions, over 60% of providers have already made that switch.
And we’re helping care professionals gain in digital confidence through our digital skills support. This includes a digital skills framework to help providers ensure that their teams have the right training to make the most of any new technology they’ve invested in.
Find all the information you need on the funding and support available to help providers make the most of digital technology at www.digitisingsocialcare.co.uk
Find out more about Melody’s work at www.thecaringllama.com