Hampshire County Council is just one of many UK local authorities to have adopted Amazon’s Echo device as a cost-effective means of helping elderly and disabled residents to live more independently.
The council has distributed 50 of Amazon’s voice-activated devices as part of a £50,000 council programme to deliver social care while attempting to cut costs.
Director of Adults’ Health and Care, Graham Allen, told the Southern Daily Echo that the success of the programme has “exceeded expectations”.
He claims that the technology has helped the department reduce costs by £43m over the past two years, with a new programme aimed at further cutting costs by £56m.
The Echo speaker is connected to a home’s wifi and operated by Alexa software, can give the user information, remind them to take medication, call relatives and much more at the user’s voice command.
9,000 people are benefiting from assistive technology in the area, according to the council, and 100 new referrals are made each week.
In March, Norfolk council said it hoped assistive technology like Alexa will help it to curb its spending on adult and social care, which currently amounts to around £1m a day.
The council’s adult social care department must make £27m of savings this year and is focusing on keeping people out of residential care and in their own homes.