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Mencap completes pilot of IoT app for people with learning disabilities

23/07/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Learning disability charity Mencap has launched a project with Vodafone aimed at using internet of things (IoT) technology to improve the quality of life for people with learning disabilities.

Young man and carer using the app

Named Connected Living, it has involved the development of the MyLife app to help people manage IoT devices to support them living independently.

It has been been piloted over the past 12 months in locations across Hampshire, Sussex, Somerset, Cornwall, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk, and co-designed with people with learning disabilities and their support workers.

A Mencap spokesperson told UKAuthority the informal feedback has been positive and it is now carrying a detailed evaluation before deciding on the next steps.

The pilot focused on making everyday activities easier in Mencap Supported Living homes. They were controlled by the bespoke app, which provides a user interface through a tablet computer to give residents control of their smart devices.

It also provides support workers with remote access and allows users to create visual guides for everyday tasks.

Several functions

Among the functions are: My Room, to enable residents to manage smart plugs, locks and lights; How To, providing guides for specific tasks; My Day, a diary management tool with reminders; My Talk, to help those with speech problems communicate through images, text and a speech function; and Call Support, a digital panic button to two-way video calling.

Tests also took place on activity sensors to detect unexpected movement and alert support workers, and smart locks.

Steve Baker, Mencap operations director, said that day-to-day tasks can be a real struggle for the 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK.

“Technology can provide simple solutions to enable them to take control and have greater independence and that really makes a difference,” he said.

“We are committed to improving the lives of people with a learning disability – we don’t want them to be left out and we know that in an increasingly digital world, we need to be innovative about our approach.  It was important to us to make this a truly collaborative project – that the people we support ended up with something truly bespoke that gave them exactly what they needed.

“This wasn’t about off-the shelf tech - so as world leaders in IoT, Vodafone were the perfect partner.  The most rewarding thing has been to see it working and the life changing impact it can have for the people we support and their support workers, who do such an amazing and challenging job.”

While the pilot was focused on Mencap supported homes, the charity often works with local authorities in exploring the possibilities to provide support to people with learning disabilities.

Image from Vodafone

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