In this month's bulletin: a new guide from Assist UK on choosing and funding AT, a code of practice for telehealth, a Care Bill in the Queen’s Speech, pressures on A & E, a commitment on integrated care, funding for the ACE Centre to help develop augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) services, and a parliamentary debate to highlight these services.
Assist UK, the umbrella organisation for disabled living centres, has published the new Guide to Wiser Well-being, funded by the Big Lottery Fund and produced by disabled consultants. The guide includes information on sources of funding for assistive technology, choosing the right products, and holidays and travel.
Assist UK is also appealing for evidence on lack of assistive technology in hospitals and care homes via their Contact Us page.
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The Telecare Services Association has opened the new ‘Telehealth Code of Practice’ for accreditation. This, together with the existing ‘Telecare Code of Practice’, forms the TSA Integrated Code of Practice, the only customer-centred integrated code of practice for telecare and telehealth services.
The 3millionlives team has published recommendations from industry on building scalable managed services involving telehealth, telecare and telecoaching and has pointed out that the potential benefits of telehealth could include a 20% reduction in emergency admissions.
The ALIP (Assisted Living Innovation Platform) website has a UK Assisted Living Capability Map with information about the potential for assisted living and current progress across the nations and regions of the UK.
Wessex Innovation Resources (WIRES), a resource website for health and social care professionals, has produced guidelines on telecare for clinicians and practitioners and telehealth and telecare for managers and commissioners.
The AKTIVE Project has published two reports: a literature review of telecare practice and a market review. Further information here.
A Guardian report features Florence, a simple telehealth application which uses SMS technology.
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3. Information and Communications Technology
Nearly 4000 people visited AbilityNet’s website after the launch of its Look No Hands! Campaign, which invited people to text using their nose or toes and make a £2 donation. Supporters included Stephen Fry and AbilityNet patron Baroness Lane-Fox.
The Race Online campaign has been handed over to Go ON UK, a new cross-sector partnership involving Age UK, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, the Post Office, TalkTalk, Lloyds Banking Group and the BBC, with Martha Lane Fox, the government’s Digital Champion, as chair. Go ON UK has a broad remit, focussing not just on getting people online, but on ensuring ‘every individual, organisation and community can enjoy the benefits of the internet’. Go ON UK’s Digital Skills CEO Summit brought together 100 senior UK leaders to shape Britain's digital future.
The Big Lottery Fund (BIG) announced at the summit a £15 million programme to build the skills that people and organisations will need to take full advantage of online support and services.
Baroness Lane Fox's maiden speech in the House of Lords focused on digital skills and the benefits of more people being able to go to online.
The European Commission has published a report about ICT for Societal Challenges which includes a section on ‘Living Healthy, Ageing Well’.
The Pinterest online pinboard has news on assistive and mainstream technology and upcoming events provided by the Aidis Trust.
Yahoo's Alan Brightman is trying to make the internet more accessible for disabled people. See the full article here.
4. The Queen’s Speech
The Queen’s Speech on 8 May set out the government’s policies and legislation for the coming year.
NHS England has launched a series of web pages dedicated to each of the 74 specialised services Clinical Reference Groups (CRGs). CRGs are responsible for providing NHS England with clinical advice on these directly commissioned services. The CRG for complex disability equipment services – prosthetics (limbs and artificial eyes), specialist wheelchairs and seating, specialist augmentative and alternative (communication aids) services, and specialist environmental controls – is to be found among trauma services here.
The draft service specifications for specialised equipment services are here.
The Department of Health has published a guide to the new healthcare system in England.
The government has published its mandate to Health Education England, the new arms-length body for NHS training and education. Plans include improving dementia training, training more nurses in the community, and 50 per cent of medical students becoming GPs.
NHS England has confirmed the designation of 15 new Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) which pull together innovation with clinical research and trials, informatics, education, and healthcare delivery.
Monitor will license foundation trusts from April 2013 and other eligible NHS providers from April 2014.
Monitor and NHS England are inviting views on how the NHS payment system can be reformed to do more for patients and encourage more integrated care, according to the Guardian.
Warning that pressure on A&E departments is ‘out of control and unsustainable’ and ‘the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse’, David Prior, chairman of the Care Quality Commission, said there should be widespread closures of hospital beds and investment in community care to tackle the increasing burden on emergency care. The Guardian report is here.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for a ‘return to the idea of the family doctor, in a modern context, if we are to improve care and ease the pressure on A&E departments’, blaming the 2004 GP contract for removing GPs’ responsibility for out-of-hours services,
Hunt's ideas were criticised by GPs’ leaders.
Analysis by the King’s Fund on the pressures on urgent and emergency care is here.
6. Choice and Competition in Healthcare
The Department of Health has published a statement about choice and competition in the NHS in England. Key points include:
patients will continue to have a choice of NHS services;
Monitor is consulting on draft guidance to help commissioners comply with the new procurement, patient choice and competition regulations which prohibit commissioners from engaging in anti-competitive behaviour unless this is in the interests of patients. The guidance aims to give commissioners flexibility to decide what services to procure and how best to secure them in the interests of patients, using integration, competition and patient choice as appropriate.
A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Trust has examined the relationship between the public and private sector in providing NHS funded care in England in the past decade. The role of non-NHS providers in delivering NHS-funded care in England increased from £5.6 billion in 2006/07 (at 2011/12 prices) to £8.7 billion in 2011/12.
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7. Integrated Care
Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb has launched plans to join up health and social care in England. 12 national leaders of health and care have signed up to a commitment on how they will help integrate services, particularly for older and disabled people. Integrated care and support: our shared commitment sets out how local areas can use structures like health and wellbeing boards to bring together local authorities, the NHS, social care providers, education, housing services, public health and others. Plans include:
Key elements in the commitment include:
More about policy on integrated care here.
A summit at the King’s Fund discussed how to make integrated care a reality.
Norman Lamb’s speech is here.
The Labour Party has called for swift integration of health and care and launched an independent commission, led by Sir John Oldham, to look at options for implementation.
Two networks of multi-professional clinical practitioners and social care have merged to establish the Integrated Clinical Commissioning Network (ICCN) in a network of nearly 2000 participants.
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8. Social Care
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) and the National Care Forum (NCF) have published the report Using assistive technology to support personalisation in social care. The report outlines how the sector might tackle barriers to greater adoption of assistive technology.
The Click Guide to Digital Technology for Adult Care by Shirley Ayres is available to purchase by download or in hard copy.
The 2013 Queen's Speech included a Care Bill for England, which brings together care and support law into a single statute. Based on last year’s care and support white paper, the Bill places duties on local authorities to promote well-being, prevent needs for care and support, promote integration of health and social care services, and provide information and advice. The Bill aims to personalise services through a legal entitlement for everyone to a personal care plan and personal budget. Other elements include:
The Bill will implement the principles of the Dilnot Commission by creating a cap on social care costs (£72,000 from 2016) and a higher means tests threshold than at present.
An article on the Care Bill by the Department of Health’s new Director General for Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships is here.
The House of Lords discussed the Care Bill during second reading on 21 May.
The latest annual survey of social care budgets by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services shows a substantial squeeze on services for older and disabled people and on fees to providers. Directors are planning to save £800 million in the 12 months to April. 13 per cent of the planned savings (£104 million) will result in withdrawal of services and nearly a fifth of councils anticipate a reduction in the levels of personal budgets. Overall, in the three years since the beginning of the current austerity programme, some £2.68 billion savings will have been made by adult social care - 20 per cent of net spending – not just by back-office adjustments, but by ‘providing different, more cost effective packages of care, or reduced levels of care, to many elderly or disabled people’.
A report by the King’s Fund concludes that the changes in the Care Bill will not be sufficient to solve the challenge of social care funding. The 2015/16 spending review should be used to move towards a ‘single strategic budget for the NHS and adult social care’ and ‘greater priority will need to be given to reducing demand for formal services by promoting independence, boosting community capacity and promoting recovery and re-ablement’.
The Department of Health has set up an early warning system to protect against financial failure in care homes and home care services.
Further information on the government’s plans to improve care and support can be found here.
A survey of more than 3,300 personal budget-holders and carers has found that using personal budgets to organise their social care increases disabled people’s independence and dignity, and their ability to choose and control their support.
9. Services for People with Dementia
The Alzheimer’s Society organised an annual dementia awareness week in May 2013 launched by the actress Ruth Jones.
Over 140 NHS trusts in England have responded to the Call to Action, to become dementia-friendly environments.
NHS England is set to target shockingly low diagnosis rates of dementia in England and has launched an NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for integrated dementia services, including the use of technology.
An overview of government policy on dementia is here.
10. Rights for Disabled People
A new website Open Britain aims to bring together in one place the key information on accessible holidays and travel.
The 500th Changing Places fully accessible disabled toilet was officially opened at The O2.
Channel 4's Paralympic coverage took the prize for best sport and live event at the Television Bafta Awards. One of the presenters, Ade Adepitan, a former wheelchair basketball player, said the win was ‘an absolute honour’ and thanked Channel 4 for ‘letting us be ourselves’.
UK Sport and the British Paralympic Association are looking for high achieving athletes to take part in a nationwide talent search for British athletes for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Disabled people talk about their role models on a dedicated YouTube channel.
Radio 4 is telling the untold history of disability in a ten-part series which started on 27 May.
Spinal Cord Injuries Day saw a united effort by key charities to raise awareness of spinal cord injury.
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11. Welfare Reform
Employment Minister Mark Hoban has claimed that improvements to the work capability assessment are making the system ‘fairer and more accurate’. According to the latest figures, the percentage of people entitled to employment and support allowance (ESA) is at its highest level with over half of people completing the assessment eligible for the benefit, while just under half were found fit for work and will be given help to find a job. Of those eligible for ESA, 23% were placed in the work related activity group, while 29% will receive unconditional support due to sickness or disability (compared to around 10% three years ago). The figures also show that since October 2010, 742,000 people on the old incapacity benefit have been reassessed to see if they are eligible for ESA. Over 203,000 people – or nearly three in every ten – have been found to be capable of work and are no longer eligible for sickness benefits.
A report on the government’s Work Programme by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has found that it under-spent by £248 million last year, that specialist sub-contractors are not being used to anywhere near the extent expected, and it is not reaching some of the most disadvantaged jobseekers, including disabled people.
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12. Services for Children and Young People
In a speech on special educational needs policy, Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said: ‘we must work together to fundamentally transform the system, so that it fits in with the needs of children and young people with SEN rather than the other way around’. The reforms in the Children and Families Bill , currently being tested in 20 local pathfinders, aim to create a more joined-up approach through integrated assessments and care plans for individuals. More about the reforms here and Timpson's speech here.
The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) has been chosen as the SEN and disability reform partner to the Department for Education.
The Department for Education has announced the 72 successful applicants for its 2013-15 voluntary, community and social enterprise grants programme. Recipients include Whizz-Kidz and the ACE Centre, which will receive £242,223 in 2013/14 and £137,873 in 2014/15 to contribute to the ‘national development and reform’ of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) services,
UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World's Children, focuses this year on the needs of disabled children, including access to assistive technology.
13. Support for Carers
The Care Bill, will for the first time introduce a duty on councils to meet carers’ eligible needs for support. This will be underpinned by a Department of Health commitment to provide new resources starting in 2015 and rising to £175 million per annum by 2020. Speaking to Carers UK, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb reviewed government support for carers and called on services to ‘recognise carers as partners’.
New census figures show that in the last ten years the number of older carers has risen by over a third, with almost 1.3 million older people now devoting their retirement to caring.
The Children’s Society report Hidden from View highlights the particular pressures on young carers.
Carers Week 2013, a UK-wide annual awareness campaign, takes place from Monday 10 to Sunday 16 June.
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For those involved in community equipment services: the NAEP Annual Conference 2013 ‘Legacy for Learning – Tools for Change’ takes place at Chesford Grange Conference Centre and Hotel - 18 and 19 June 2013.
The annual Mobility Roadshow (Telford International Centre 27-29 June) will for the first time offer disabled people the opportunity to test drive adapted vehicles on public roads. Register for free tickets.
Posture and Mobility Group (PMG) have their National Training Event on the 10 – 12 July to disseminate knowledge and best practice on the posture and mobility needs of disabled people. The event will include an exhibition by manufacturers and suppliers, with presentations and workshops. The programme and abstracts are available here.
The Telecare Services Association is taking bookings for this year's International Telecare and Telehealth Conference in November. Book now to secure the Early Bird Discount.
Annalu Waller , Professor of Human Communication Technologies at the University of Dundee, will be keynote speaker at this year’s RAate 2013 conference, which takes place on Monday 25th of November 2013. The RAate 2013 Call for Papers is now open with a closing date of 15 July.
15. Heading fifteen
FAST also publish a monthly newsletter about Assistive Technology R & D. View it here.
The new website and mobile app to match carers with those needing care referred to in last month’s bulletin as CareRepair is in fact Carepair. Apologies for any confusion!
Communication Matters is engaging with MPs to support future commissioning arrangements for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) services. Paul Maynard MP has secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons about AAC commissioning on 6th of June 2013.
BAPO (British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists) has published new standards of best practice.
The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has condemned apparent sharp practice in the supply of mobility products by a company featured in the BBC’s ‘Rogue Traders’ programme, pointing out that the company was not a BHTA member and not governed by its Code of Practice.
A video about the BHTA Code of Practice is here.
The government has published a Choice Charter setting out principles to increase choice in public services and a progress report on public sector reform.
Prince William and Prince Harry have opened four recovery centres provided for wounded service personnel by the charity Help for Heroes.
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