Hampshire deploys Amazon Echo in health and social care trial
Local authorities up and down the country are struggling to reconcile the need to deliver quality adult social care against the need to save money. Technology may hold the key to easing this pressure.
Hampshire County Council has given out 50 Amazon Echo’s to act as voice-activated virtual assistants for elderly and disabled people, to test whether they can improve the councils adult care services. The devices can assist people with reading, ordering goods online, playing music, turning on lights and other electrical appliances – which combined allow disabled and homebound people to function much more independently.
The £50,000 trial is not intended to be a substitute for existing care workforces, but will hopefully go some way to supporting them as care demands increase. Hampshire alone expects that it will need roughly 8000 new staff to meet its health and social care demands over the next five years.
Initial feedback has been positive and highlights how the devices have improved the metal wellbeing of users, and reduced the number of short visits from carers. Historically, short visits are needed to ensure people are safe and to prompt the use of medication – all of which technology can now facilitate. Although the issues facing adult social care run much deeper, the trial has highlighted how technology may be used moving forward. Read more here