In this month's bulletin: news from the British Healthcare Trades Association, two major reports on augmentative and alternative communication services, an overview of the dallas connected health project, political leaders call for integrated and preventative care, and NICE guidance on dementia includes the provision of AT.
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The British Healthcare Trades Association’s Code of Practice – the only one in the industry – has transferred to the new Trading Standards Institute Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, following the closure of the Office of Fair Trading Scheme. The BHTA website is here.
The BHTA has launched the Assistive Technology Practitioners Society, which aims to recognise job competences and raise standards, giving members of the public and professionals the confidence that if they deal with a Registered Practitioner they are dealing with someone they can trust.
The BHTA also provides a programme of training courses.
The fifth issue of AT Today, produced by BHTA Engage Ltd, the BHTA’s commercial arm, has the latest news about AT products, research and services.
BHTA Engage also publish THIIS (The Homecare Industry Information Service)
The first BHTA Engage initiative is the BHTA Pavilion at the Health+Care show which takes place on the 12th and 13th of June 2013 at Excel London. Keynote speakers at Health+Care include Care Minister Norman Lamb and Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.
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Whizz-Kidz has launched a new leaflet to help families who have a child who needs a wheelchair.
A report from the TUC’s Action for Rail campaign looks at what impact proposals to cut 14,000 jobs on stations and trains will have on disabled and older passengers.
3. Telehealth and Telecare
Experts from across Northern Ireland gathered in April to mark the success of the Telemonitoring NI service. The telehealth service, which is provided by the TF3 Consortium in conjunction with the five health and social care trusts, monitors the vital signs of people with long-term conditions and has benefited 1,500 patients to date. The TF3 consortium comprises Tunstall Healthcare, Fold Housing Association and S3 Group.
An article in Pulse Today by Professor Stanton Newman, research lead on the Whole Systems Demonstrators trial, discusses the benefits of telehealth. He argues that the trial found significant reductions in mortality and emergency admissions and that telehealth should not be seen as a treatment in itself but as an ‘instrument to assist in the management, planning and organisation of care’.
An updated map for UK telecare services is now available.
The Independent reports that Sussex Police’s plans to fit dementia patients with GPS tracking devices have been criticised by councillors and campaigners.
The theme of this year’s annual International Congress on Telehealth and Telecare (King’s Fund 1-3 July) will be innovation, integration and implementation, and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will be the keynote speaker.
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4. Information and Communications Technology
Independent expert John Gill has updated his Guidelines for the design of accessible information and communication technology systems and welcomes comments.
The European Disability Forum has commented on the accessibility of public websites at a meeting in the European Parliament.
An article in Ability magazine describes how advances in technology are opening up music making to a greater number of people than ever before through novel musical instruments, inclusive music notation and accessible digital recording equipment.
RNIB reports that 2012 was a spectacular year for audio description fans in the UK with television channels broadcasting around 6000 programmes with AD each week (http://www.rnib.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx) and that more banks have joined the Make Money Talk campaign for accessible cash machines.
Digital communications company EE is doubling the speed and capacity of its 4G broadband network to 10 UK cities by the summer.
The government has urged social landlords to bid for funding to design innovative projects to help their tenants get online with the launch of the £400,000 Digital Deal.
5. Connected Health and Care
The dallas (delivering assisted living lifestyles at scale) research programme goes beyond traditional health and social care to consider how new technology can be used to help people live independently and manage their own lifestyles. By summer 2015 dallas aims to help 169,000 people across the UK. Part of the Technology Strategy Board’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP), dallas aims to complement other initiatives such as the 3millionlives telecare and telehealth programme.
The four dallas communities are:
Presentations from the recent ALIP event are now available. For news, updates and information, you can register with the Technology Strategy Board ALIP group and the DALLAS sub-group.
CareRepair is a new website and mobile app to match carers with those needing care.
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6. Commissioning Specialised Services
The commissioning of specialised health services is now the responsibility of NHS England (formerly the NHS Commissioning Board) so that, for the first time, they will be commissioned using a nationally consistent approach. NHS England has announced that 135 draft specialised services specifications, which were consulted on between December 2012 and February 2013, will be subject to further engagement with stakeholders during the coming months.
The draft service specifications for five specialised equipment services (wheelchairs, communication aids, environmental controls, prosthetics and artificial eyes) are here.
The Specialised Healthcare Alliance has published an article on how specialised services will be commissioned under the new system.
An article on the commissioning of specialised prosthetics and wheelchair services is on the Limbless Association website here.
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7. Augmentative and Alternative Communication
The commissioning of specialised communication aids (augmentative and alternative communication/AAC) services is now the responsibility of NHS England which has pledged to introduce a nationally consistent approach. The draft service specification for communication aids services will be subject to further engagement with stakeholders during the coming months. Local AAC services will be commissioned by clinical commissioning groups and local partners.
Communication Matters has released two major reports on the provision of AAC services:
According to the research report Shining a Light on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 23,000 people across the UK may be living without access to a powered communication aid that would enable them to have a voice. Nearly a third of a million people across the UK are benefiting or may benefit from AAC support, according to the report carried out by the University of Sheffield – the culmination of the three year 'AAC Evidence Base' research project. The new findings expose the great variation in service provision across the UK.
The second report sets out a model of AAC service provision for the future based on a project funded by the Department for Education. The aim was to support the transition to new commissioning arrangements following the NHS changes in England, and to help move provision incrementally towards the model of regional hubs supporting local services. Four regions – North, London, Midlands and East, and South – collaborated on key objectives and each region included consortium members from health, education, and voluntary sector service providers. The report is here, together with presentations from recent conferences, a mapping survey of services and best practice guidelines.
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In a speech on the ageing society and the increasing number of people with long-term conditions such as dementia, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for integrated care and preventative primary care, including telehealth and telecare.
NHS England has published its business plan Putting Patients First: the NHS England business plan for 2013/14 - 2015/16. The plan includes an 11-point scorecard for NHS services, which NHS England will use for measuring performance on key priorities, including feedback from patients, their families and NHS staff. Key priorities include: enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions, helping people recover from episodes of ill-health or following injury, and treating and caring for people in a safe environment. Key deliverables include an increase in 'the use of
technology to help people manage their health and care' and continuing the roll out of telehealth and telecare to 3 million people by March 2017.
The publication of the plan comes alongside the launch of the NHS Friends and Family Test which asks all patients whether they would recommend hospitals to their friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment.
The Department of Health has published updated guidance and a public information leaflet on NHS continuing healthcare and NHS funded nursing care.
Responding to the Caldicott Review on information governance in health and social care, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that while effective sharing of patient information has enormous potential to improve care, any patient who does not want personal data in their GP record to be shared will have their objection respected.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for the ‘swift integration of health and care services so that the NHS can be made financially sustainable and provide a better service for the future’, because ‘the growing number of older people and those with chronic illnesses is fundamentally challenging current models of care’. Labour has launched an independent commission to look at options for implementing integrated care.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham set out his vision of preventative community-based care in an interview on the BBC Andrew Marr programme. The system needed to be turned on its head: councils should hold budgets and commission physical, mental and social care, while the NHS should provide ‘whole-person care’ across all three sectors.
According to the King’s Fund, the public still support the founding principle of the NHS – that access should be based on need rather than the ability to pay.
The Care Quality Commission’s business plan for 2013-16 sets out radical changes to the way it inspects and regulates services, including appointing a Chief Inspector of Hospitals and a Chief Inspector of Social Care and Support, considering the appointment of a Chief Inspector of Primary and Integrated Care, strengthening inspection teams, developing new standards of care, and publishing better information for the public, including ratings of services.
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9. Choice and Competition in Healthcare
The government withdrew regulations on procurement, patient choice and competition in the NHS in England, because they were seen to place too much emphasis on competition, and laid reworded regulations (the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No. 2) Regulations SI 2013/500) before Parliament.
Legal experts still believed that the regulations would increase competition and the role of the private sector, while the Department of Health argued that they would not change the applicability of EU and UK procurement law: commissioners would be able to award contracts without a competition where there was only one provider capable of delivering their requirements.
Members of the House of Lords voted in a debate on 24 April 2013 to reject a motion to annul the new regulations, which are now in force. Government health spokesperson Earl Howe was adamant that the regulations did not confer any obligation on commissioners to create or promote markets.
Monitor, the regulator which will enforce the regulations, is expected to publish guidance shortly. More about its work on cooperation and competition here.
Monitor and NHS England will be producing a web-based resource to help commissioners, providers and patients understand choice and competition in the health care system.
A joint research programme by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Trust aims to increase understanding of choice and competition in the NHS.
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10. Social Care
NICE has become the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and extended its work to social care.
New online information profiles on the NHS Choices website will help people choose, compare and comment on care homes and home care services, by bringing together information from providers, reports from Care Quality Commission inspections and comments from the public and other websites. More details here.
A website from the Social Care Institute for Excellence on finding care is here.
The government has announced an independent review into the education of social workers.
11. Services for People with Dementia
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a guide to support the commissioning of high-quality, evidence-based care of people who have dementia and a press release is here. The guide focuses on:
The comprehensive guide draws on NICE’s new social care dementia quality standard - Supporting people to live well with dementia – which should be considered together with NICE's existing dementia quality standard (QS1, 2010) to provide an integrated approach to health and social care for people with dementia.
An update on government policies on dementia is here.
An article in the Daily Express asks Do you have a dementia friendly home? and gives examples of adaptations and equipment that can help.
More suggestions from the University of Stirling Dementia Services Development Centre here.
Recogneyes, a company which produces care home signage and visual aids, has launched a new app for people with dementia.
A report from Action on Hearing Loss and University College London’s Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre urges NHS England to substantially improve the quality of life experienced by people with dementia and hearing loss by introducing a joined-up approach to the assessment, diagnosis and management of both conditions.
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12. Rights for Disabled People
Aveso, a joint venture between Astor Bannerman and OpeMed, companies with over 20 years of experience in specialist changing equipment, is the new sponsor of the Changing Places campaign. The target is 1000 registered Changing Places toilets within the next three years.
Leading equipment supplier Ottobock, which supported last year’s Paralympics, will be sending 30 orthopaedic technicians from eleven countries to support the 11th Winter Paralympics in Sochi (7-16 March 2014).
A report by the MS Society A lottery of treatment and care: MS services across the UK has uncovered major disparities across the UK in access to MS medicines and support, including access to equipment and adaptations.
Research from Parkinson’s UK reveals that many people with Parkinson's are being subjected to unacceptable levels of prejudice and discrimination.
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13. Welfare Reform
After significant drops in the take-up of the Access to Work scheme since 2009, the latest figures show an increase in the numbers helped. The latest statistics on the scheme, which can be used to fund equipment, are here.
The government has published information about the impact of the new personal independence payment, which is replacing disability living allowance, on the Blue Badge parking scheme for disabled people and on the eligibility of disabled people for concessionary bus travel.
The Limbless Association has published a note on the new personal independence payment here, and its dedicated webpage on the new benefit can be found here.
The government has launched the first pilot of universal credit, which will replace income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, working tax credit, child tax credit, and housing benefit. The roll-out of universal credit will start from October 2013 and be completed across the UK by 2017.
Charities, business leaders and disability experts are joining forces to support the hardest to help claimants into a job through the Work Programme. A new best practice group will help organisations delivering the Work Programme to find the best ways to help former incapacity benefit claimants and people claiming employment and support allowance.
Campaigners have vowed to fight on as a high court judge failed to overturn the government's decision to close the Independent Living Fund. A report in Disability Now is here.
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14. The Voluntary Sector
A new partnership between the Small Charities Coalition and AbilityNet's IT4Communities programme gives small charities access to IT support from 9,000 IT professionals who offer their time for free.
The Department of Health has announced the 21 voluntary sector organisations in its Health and Care Voluntary Sector Strategic Partner Programme for 2013/14. The organisations will use their expertise to inform and shape national policy. Participants include Age UK, The Disability Partnership (Royal Mencap Society, Scope, Sense, The National Autistic Society), Disability Rights UK, and the National Housing Federation.
176 hospices across England providing end of life care for children and adults have been awarded a share of £60 million government funding to improve care environments and settings.
The government has announced that parents of children and young adults who are disabled or seriously ill will be able to apply for a share of the £27.3 million Family Fund.
15. News in Brief
Consumer research charity Ricability has rebranded itself as Rica, launched a new website, and unveiled a new measurement database for scooters and powered wheelchairs: Scooter & powered wheelchair search.
For those involved in community equipment services, places are still available for the NAEP Annual Conference 2013, Legacy for Learning – Tools for Change, at the Chesford Grange Conference Centre and Hotel, 18 and 19 June 2013.
The government has launched a review of the Health and Safety Executive.
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