Investment in the future of assistive technology in Leeds

Leeds City Council’s executive board will be asked to approve proposals for a new Assistive Technology Hub to be established in the city at their meeting next week.

The AT Hub will provide a central access point for health and social care equipment for people in the city that want support to stay in their own homes, living safely and independently for as long as possible.

Authority is being sought to spend a total of £2,170,963 on the development, using funding from the Community Capacity Grant, a capital grant from the Department of Health.

For the first time ever in Leeds, the hub will bring, under one easily-accessible and central roof:

• Assessment facilities for people needing support in the home, so they can try out different kinds of equipment and select which is best suited to their individual needs and circumstances, before making a choice.

• Round the clock new technology and helpline services to promote safety in the home for vulnerable people, such as those living with dementia, or those prone to falling whilst alone, forgetting to turn off cookers and heaters, or wandering from home.

• Services to supply, deliver and fit equipment such as specially adapted beds, chairs, bathing, kitchen and daily living devices.

• Assessments for people applying for Blue Badges to help them continue to use their own cars by taking advantage of parking and other concessions.

• A one-stop information point for older people, disabled adults and children, carers, families and professionals seeking advice on sometimes simple measures that can be taken within a vulnerable person’s home. These can often have far-reaching, beneficial effects on independence, wellbeing and safety, enabling people to continue to remain in their own familiar surroundings, with family and friends.

The development of the AT Hub will see services that are currently delivered from six sites across the city consolidated on one site, and will also offer new services that are not currently available.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member for adult social care services said:

“Assistive technology is playing an increasingly important role in helping older, disabled and vulnerable people to remain living safely and independently in their own homes for as long as they are able to do so.

“Our aim is for Leeds to be the best city for health and wellbeing, and by bringing these services together under one roof, we will significantly improve access and availability for our customers.

“This investment and innovative approach to assistive technology will help us to develop preventative, re-abling, cost effective services to meet the needs of our ageing population, and remain at the forefront of AT provision nationwide.”

Leeds is well equipped in terms of AT service provision having a range of services available across the public, private and third sectors. The new AT Hub would see Leeds Community Equipment Store (LCES), Telecare, and the Blue Badge service relocate to 81 Clarence Road. Bringing these services together in one location will mean Leeds can do more to remain at the forefront of AT provision nationwide.

Given the range of AT available and the speed with which the sector is developing, it is increasingly important to make sure that information about and access to these tools and services is available to both professionals and service users.

A planned second phase of the new hub is proposed to include:

• A ‘smart house’, which would offer personalised information in a ‘demonstration home’ setting of how new technologies can help people improve vulnerable people’s quality of life and help them remain at home safely, for longer.

• An assistive technology retail unit, a showroom offering a range of equipment available both for council-assisted and self-funding customers. Products will be offered by commercial as well as statutory suppliers but all will be expected to work to the standards of the British Healthcare Retail Traders Association.

• A product testing laboratory, for suppliers, developers and innovators of assistive technology equipment. It will host product demonstrations so that service users and professionals can help influence future design and use of new technology in older and disabled people’s homes.


Additional info

In 2010/11 Leeds Community Equipment Store (LCES) provided 16,350 adults and 738 children with equipment.

The population of over 85 year olds in Leeds is projected to increase from 17,000 in 2012 to 27,900 in 2030, an increase of over 60%.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Email: claire.macklam@leeds.gov.uk