Alexa could help combat loneliness in Cornwall

People who are at risk of being socially isolated, for example after a spell in hospital, could soon have an Echo Spot installed in their home to allow them to communicate with a loved one more easily.

The plan is all part of a project led by Cornwall Council where grant funding has been awarded to help develop schemes that use technology to combat a range of issues, such as social isolation, falls and frailty.

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Age UK put forward the bid that will allow people to use the technology in a variety of ways such as  making video calls, setting reminders, and accessing Cornwall link, the Age UK information portal, as well as other resources at home.

Portfolio holder for adults Councillor Rob Rotchell said: “Cornwall Council faces huge challenges to deliver care services with limited and stretched resources as well as responding to people’s changing expectations of public services.

“Technology Enabled Care is a key way to address these challenges and it will be exciting to see how these projects take shape.”

In another successful bid from Plymouth University EPIC project, Echo Spots will also be used in care homes to improve the well-being of hundreds of residents, for example, to play music from different eras to enhance the lives of people living with dementia.

Ray Jones, EPIC Project Director and Professor of Health Informatics said: “There is great potential in keeping care home residents connected to family, friends, and befrienders using devices such as Echo Spot.

“Such devices can also stimulate and help with reminiscence through music. We aim to get these installed in the majority of care homes across Cornwall. This then provides a large ‘user-base’ for small companies in Cornwall to develop new apps to meet the needs of care homes.”

Another project will support people with health conditions in Camborne where a partnership with a care company called Veor and a GP surgery will allow people to check things like their blood pressure which allows it to be monitored in real time by a healthcare worker to try to prevent an episode of ill health.

The other successful project from Cornwall Care will use technology that will allow more people to be involved in meetings about them, using a ‘padbot’ which is a remote controlled mobile stand with video conferencing facilities. This helps the individual to have more choice and control over their health and social care needs.

Posted on 14 March