Electronic technology is part of everyday life – from mobile phones and video conferencing to satellite navigation – and, of course, people with social care needs should be able to access the benefits of that technology like everybody else.
In fact, for many with social care needs, technology has a particularly important part to play in supporting safety and increasing independence. It can enable greater participation in family, social and economic life – reducing isolation and improving motivation and well-being.
As an example, rapid growth in the use of mobile phones for texting by people with hearing impairments has arisen spontaneously. Their use is now an essential part of the means by which people with such impairments are engaged and involved in family, social and economic life.
There are also more specific ways electronic assistive technology (eAT) can help those with social care needs – should they wish it to do so. Examples range from simple emergency pull-cords to complex environmental monitors built within interactive devices and connected via broadband.
Supporting the use of eAT will be an increasingly significant part of social care provision in coming years. The social care workforce must become more confident, skillful and knowledgeable about eAT if they are to promote the contribution it can make and understand how best to support its use.
The Sector Skills Council, Skills for Care and Development, has recently published ‘Technology to Care: A Workforce Learning Strategy to Embed Electronic Assistive Technology (eAT) in Social Care’, The five-year strategy has been developed through wide consultation across the UK and is accompanied by a Knowledge and Skills Set detailing what is required to support the use of eAT.
These resources have been designed to support employers, equipment suppliers and training providers in their shared task of up-skilling the workforce.
The resources include recommendations, information and guidance. A supplementary toolkit has been provided to aid implementation, including video case studies and other sources of information. The strategy explores, and makes recommendations about, the integration of eAT into workforce policies, job descriptions and career development opportunities.
The strategy and associated resources have received co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the Employer Investment Fund.
The strategy and resources can be found at www.technologytocare.org.uk