£1.56m ‘assistive’ technology pilot gets go-ahead in Hertfordshire

The council's cabinet agreed to invest £1.56m to expand the project

Thursday, 16th July 2020, 10:32 am
Updated Thursday, 16th July 2020, 10:34 am

Hertfordshire County Council is to invest £1.56m on sensors and monitors to keep vulnerable residents safe in their own homes.

Among its uses, the ‘assistive technology’ could be used to monitor whether elderly or frail residents are moving around, whether they are drinking enough or whether they were taking their medication.

And it could, it is said, enable residents to stay in their own homes for longer, rather than needing the security offered by a care home – or to safely recuperate at home after a hospital stay.

Hertfordshire County Council offices

The county council has already been trialling the use of the hi-tech equipment in a small way in the county.

But on Monday, July 13, a meeting of the council’s cabinet agreed to invest £1.56m to expand the project.

That will enable the approach to be rolled out to 200 residents. And it will fund the development of technology to analyse the data generated by the sensors and monitors.

Executive member for adult care and health Cllr Richard Roberts said the project was based around ‘half a dozen relatively simple pieces of kit’ – recording movement and whether, for example, med boxes have been opened.

But he said it would allow older people to stay independent , healthy and supported in their own homes – and could cut council budgets by millions of pounds.

“We think that with in three years the cost savings could be £3-4million a year,” said Cllr Roberts.

“The savings would be right across health and social care.

“But I think most importantly it is the confidence that this gives to both the individual and to the family; that somebody is keeping an eye on a loved one – mum, dad , grandparent – and that is so important.

“Our whole ethos is that people should be allowed to live the healthiest life they can, as independently as long as possible outside of a care setting.

“And this is one of the ways that we think will really make a difference.”

At the meeting it was estimated that ultimately there could be up to 7000 people across the county that could benefit from the technology.

An as part of the project the council will be looking at how it could be rolled out further.

Backing the investment executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings said : “It has been proven without any shadow of a doubt that the longer older folk can stay in their own homes to live independently – in an environment that they understand and they are comfortable in – it does a great deal for the health and wellbeing.

“I have no hesitation whatsoever in supporting this motion – I think it is a great idea.

Council leader Cllr David Williams said the use and understanding of the algorithms that could analyse the data and the technology would be key.

He said: “In a very unobtrusive way it enables people to live safely in their own homes or away from a care setting for as long as possible.

“And I really do feel that we have a technological advantage here that we should look to capitalise on .”