New technology hub aids people with dementia

Friday May 27th 2016

In a pioneering new project in Midlothian, a specialist hub has been set up to encourage people with dementia to look at how technology can help them in their daily lives.

The AT Home Hub opens formally to the public during Dementia Awareness Week (30 May to 5 June).  Based at Midlothian Community Hospital, it is a joint initiative by Midlothian Council and Volunteer Midlothian.

There are estimated to be 1,400 people with dementia living in Midlothian with many more people involved in providing care and support for someone with the disease.  People with dementia, their families and carers, can come and get information and advice about how technology might support them in their daily lives.

There is the opportunity to see a range of telecare equipment such as personal alarms and equipment using infra red beams to monitor movement around the house.  People can also find out about a range of other technological support such as how to access relevant websites and online peer support, set up contact lists, reminders, online shopping, and dementia friendly apps.

Eibhlin McHugh, Director of Health & Social Care, said, “Technology has an important role to play in supporting people with dementia but because of the age of many sufferers, they have not kept up with technological advances and may never even have used a computer, tablet or smart phone.

“Our new AT Home Hub is unique in Scotland.  Its aim is that through technology people can enjoy better lives by being in touch with the outside world, including friends and family, and stay safer in their homes for longer.  Technology can literally change the lives of people with dementia and their carers and this new service is part of Midlothian’s commitment to creating a dementia friendly community.”

Stephanie Heasman, AT Home Hub Co-ordinator, said, “All appointments are focussed on the individual and their family and will include discussion about daily living activities and current use of technology.   We will discuss the specific needs and interests of each person and consider how technology might best support them at home.”

David Halley is from Easthouses in Dalkeith.  His wife Etta had dementia for two years before she died in April.  They had some telecare equipment installed in their home including an alarm and pendant, a bed sensor and a pager.  David said, “The bed sensor was at shoulder height so I would know if she moved or got out of bed.  I could be in the sitting room doing something and I had the confidence of knowing she was safe in bed.  This was a brilliant piece of equipment which gave me peace of mind.  We wouldn’t have survived without it.

“The pendant was also excellent and we got an immediate response when we used it.  Once they called an ambulance for my wife and it was just a relief to know that we had this equipment.”

The AT Home Hub is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Midlothian Community Hospital and operates both a drop in service and an appointments system.  For more information or to book an appointment, contact Stephanie Heasman, the AT Home Hub Co-ordinator on 0131 660 1216, 07934 102272 or by email stephanie@volunteermidlothian.org.uk

To find out more about Dementia Awareness Week, activities and fundraising ideas go to www.daw.dementiascotland.org or www.alzscot.org.  There is also information about the services and support the charity can offer to people dementia, their family and carers.

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