Towards becoming a national centre of excellence in the provision of technology enabled care.

We are absolutely thrilled to share our news that the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust have agreed to fund a feasibility study looking at how Leuchie House can become a National Centre of Excellence in the Provision of Technology Enabled Care.

At Leuchie we’ve always been keen to respond to one of our guest’s strongest impulses: to regain some of their independence lost through the progression of their disease. Access to the digital world and the use of environmental controls are the two areas in which we feel we can build our expertise, together with guests.

Our vision is that a short break at Leuchie could have a longer legacy, by providing the opportunity for assessment and education which maximises our guest’s independence when they return home. This has obvious positive consequences for our guests, their families and carers. With around 300 people a year coming for a break at Leuchie it may even be possible over time to develop enough profiling knowledge to be able to give quality, actionable advice on enabling products to those who do not come here. With the support from the RS Macdonald Charitable Trust we are one step closer to that.

We began this journey last year when we secured funding from <<The Health & Social Care Alliance>> to employ a Digital Skills Assistant, Elizabeth McDowell. She is bringing expertise and improving our understanding of available technology, and, through tailored workshops, is helping to improve digital access skills so that we can help guests and carers reduce their feelings of social isolation and increase feelings of their independence.

Already at Leuchie we have put Amazon ‘Alexa’ smart speakers in communal rooms and some bedrooms. And soon we hope guests will be able to say:

· “Alexa, turn on the lights”

· “Alexa, open the blinds”

· “Alexa, drop into the kitchen” (if you fancy asking for breakfast in bed!)

· “Alexa, play some relaxing music”

· … the possibilities are endless.

But this is just the beginning. If the feasibility study shows that the implementation is possible, we will put the Amazon ‘Alexa’ smart speaker (Echo, Dot, Spot or Show) into every guest and carer room. This will enable guests who want to use the technology to try it out and to benefit from the autonomy it can provide while at Leuchie. We hope to install voice activated smart blinds, plugs, door buttons, TV, etc. We will also provide training to help guests who are unfamiliar with smart tech and would like to try it out.

Elizabeth says “While technology will never replace human contact, our vision is a world in which the independent potential of everyone with a neurological condition is maximised through the use of technology. I am excited to start work on our newly funded project, which will allow me to research and test out smart technology and put together a feasibility study, which will outline the way forward for Leuchie’s use of voice enabled and assistive technology. We will initially look at voice and button controlled smart technology, but in the longer term we could consider the use of other technology such as robotics, which is starting to be explored for use in the care sector.”