Emerging technology helps carers overcome isolation

Liverpool Push to Talk

A loneliness-prevention device has helped unpaid carers from Liverpool overcome social isolation, inventors have said.

Push to Talk is a new technology that connects informal carers with one another, at the press of a button.

Developed by local firm Defproc Engineering, the technology is currently being trialled in Liverpool as part of the Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care project, which is run by 11 health, social care and technology professionals in the city.

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Mary Brandt from Kensington was introduced to the Push to Talk device by charity Local Solutions and says it’s brought her great comfort.

“When Chris from Local Solutions came with the Push to Talk box my family said, ‘what do you need that for?’ I told them it was for carers in the same situation as me, people caring and living on their own who don’t always have somebody to talk to.

“I love using it. I contact other carers and we talk and have a laugh, it does everybody good. We don’t always talk to each other about our problems, we just chat.”

Unpaid carers living in the UK are seven times more likely to feel lonely than the rest of the population, according to the latest Carers Week report, published last week.

Over half of those carers say they don’t like talking to their friends about caring and never get the time to socialise.

Patrick Fennah, from DefProc, said Push to Talk is a valuable tool for those who feel isolated.

“It’s important to create opportunities for people caring for someone to connect with others who share their experiences. Social isolation is a growing issue, innovative technologies can offer a lifeline to people,” he added.

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care, Europe’s first dedicated 5G health and social care pilot, was recently awarded an extra £1.48 million in government funding, and £54,000 from consortium partners, taking the total funding received so far to £4.9 million.

As part of this project, games development company CGA Simulation has also created a loneliness quizzing and gaming app that allows groups of people who are facing social isolation to join in an online quiz or bingo game.

The app is being trialled by a group of people with learning disabilities at Kensington Community Learning Centre in Liverpool.

Jane Davies, from CGA Simulation, explains: “Working with people with a learning disability from KCLC to develop the app has been a brilliant process. We have been able to adapt the colours, font size and other features used in the game to better aid people with different conditions to use the app. In a co-creation session, we wrote new quiz questions and topics for the quiz, taking the group’s age and ability into consideration.”

Caption: DefProc Engineering showcased the technology at a recent Carers Week event.

Tags : isolationLiverpool 5GlonelinessPush to Talktechnology
Sarah Clarke

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