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© Foundation for Assistive Technology Getting equipped for active aging A guide for volunteers to support older people to choose and use equipment
© Foundation for Assistive Technology The aim of today’s course: To raise your awareness of equipment for active aging To suggest ways that you can work with older people to raise their awareness of: –equipment –the issues to consider to make the right choice of equipment and services. To join in group discussions To identify where you need to undertake further research and learning For the course to be successful we need your active involvement:
© Foundation for Assistive Technology This presentation is accompanied by handout sheets providing signposting and contact details for the organisations and resources referred to in the course, so you shouldn’t need to take notes. The handouts and presentation are available to download for free from This information should support you to learn about equipment and then to work with older people to support them to make confident, informed choices. You are not being asked to be an expert and you will not be asked to recommend items of equipment or specific services.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology What’s ‘equipment for active aging’ Discuss with a neighbour what you think ‘equipment for active aging’ is, and when you think it might be useful and when not. You have probably identified that this equipment is sometimes called assistive technology, aids and adaptations, mobility equipment or disability equipment.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Different ways older people stay active… Jean is starting to find it difficult to walk down to her local supermarket and carry her shopping home. She doesn’t drive. What other ways could Jean carry on doing her weekly shop? Getting a lift with a neighbour Using a shopping trolley Shopping online Taking the bus or dial-a-ride Moving home Getting a mobility scooter or electric wheelchair The options you’ve thought about might include:
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Options for active aging For any challenge to active aging there are usually three options to consider: 1.People providing a bit of help 2.Changing how and where someone lives their life 3.Using equipment and adaptations Any of these options might be the right choice and sometimes people need all three
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Discuss the pros and cons of equipment then check your list against these suggestions Pros may be that equipment can: Help people to stay active and independent Improves health and well-being Keep people safe. Help people to stay in touch with friends and family The Cons may be that: Equipment can be expensive Using equipment may label people as ‘old’ It can be confusing to learn how to use a new gadget Equipment might be used to replace people
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Why support older people to think about equipment? Around 1/3 of the equipment given out by social services is not used. The range and quality of equipment for active aging is improving, but it can be expensive. Older people are now being asked by the NHS and local councils to choose how they want to stay independent, including asking them to choose and buy equipment. Many people say they don’t feel confident to make the right choice.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Would you feel confident to choose? Why do some of us feel unconfident to choose equipment for active aging when we all buy and use gadgets to make our lives easier, e.g. TV remote control, glasses, cars and cookers? For some of this equipment we rely on expert advice and support, for others we often do some research and then use our normal buying skills.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Steps you can go through with older people to help them get the right equipment 1.The equipment that is available 2.Deciding on the right option 3.Sources of information and advice 4.Getting hold of equipment 5.Help with the cost of equipment 6.What to consider when buying equipment 7.Ensuring it keeps on being useful
© Foundation for Assistive Technology The equipment that is available Have a look at the equipment you’ve been able to get hold of. Discuss with your neighbour what you think it might be useful for and what you think about it. Now take a few minutes to look through the equipment catalogues if they are available. Think about how you would use equipment and catalogues to begin a discussion with the older people you support.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Researching equipment Use the following slides for a group discussion about the different types of equipment that are available. Refer to your catalogues to see additional equipment. Try to identify low cost/ low tech gadgets and some of the higher cost/ higher tech gadgets. Try to identify different equipment that does the same job in different ways and at different prices. How would you support someone to make a good decision?
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Helping mobility Lower tech/ lower cost: Rotating ferules for walking sticks Shopping trolleys Transfer boards Higher tech/ higher cost: Electric standing frames Upright wheelchairs Adapted cars
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Lower tech/ lower cost: Large button phones Alphabet boards Flashing door and phone bells Higher tech/ higher cost: Voice recognition and screen reader software Skype and Communication aids Communication
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Around the home Lower tech/ lower cost: Foam tubing Key turners Long handled hair brushes Higher tech/ higher cost: Eating aids Through floor lifts
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Equipment for the kitchen Lower tech/ lower cost: One-touch tin openers Talking pen labelling systems Tactile buttons Higher tech/ higher cost: Adjustable height kitchens Talking microwaves Instant hot water taps
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Reminders and alerts (telecare) Lower tech/ lower cost: Pendant alarms Pill dispensers Keysafes Vibrating door alarms Higher tech/ higher cost: Fall detectors Intercoms and door entry systems
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Leisure and enjoyment Lower tech/ lower cost: Audio books Large font games Easy grip and long handled garden tools Higher tech/ higher cost: Electronic books Wii exercises
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Bathing and showering Lower tech/ lower cost: Magiplugs Tap turners Non-slip mats Higher tech/ higher cost: Automatic taps Walk-in baths Wash and blow dry showers
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Helping someone decide on the right option For much of the lower tech/ lower cost equipment you’ve looked at today, once you’ve done a bit more research, do you feel you might be confident to go through this information with an older person to support them to choose the right equipment or service for them? If not, what other research would you need to do? For the higher tech/ higher cost equipment we will now look at some of the issues to consider before a person should make a decision.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Supporting someone to make a decision The What/ Where/ How checklist – using this checklist should give you and the older person you support the time and space to think through the issues that may influence a decision. The aim is to work together to identify options for equipment and services and to think about the advantages and disadvantages of each option. You may find it useful to go through this process a couple of times before you are sure you have identified and weighed up all the options.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology The What/ Where/ How checklist What does the individual want to do? Help them to think through what it will involve.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology The physical layout of their home Their family living arrangements Their neighbourhood services Where do they want to do it?
© Foundation for Assistive Technology How do they want to go about it? Their body and how its changing Their personality and what suits them Their interest in learning new things
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Deciding between options: 1.People providing help 2.Doing things differently 3.Using equipment and adaptations Or: A combination of these three With the information you are able to find together, the older person may now have identified equipment or services they think would suit them and that they would like to find out more about. What/ where / how – helping an older person to decide on the right solution
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Sources of information and advice Disabled Living Foundation –Free online information on bathing, bedroom, stairs, seating and telecare: including prices and suppliers –A free helpline and factsheets –Signposting to more information: allaboutequipment.org.ukallaboutequipment.org.uk Ricability –Consumer reviews of products including mobile phones and wheelchair adapted cars Disabled and Independent Living Centres –UK wide: equipment advice, assessments and demonstrations Here There
© Foundation for Assistive Technology National information and advice providers Exhibitions: NAIDEX and the Mobility Roadshow Charities: RNIB, RNID, ATdementia, AbilityNet, ACE Centre, Forum of Mobility Centres, Arthritis Care, Stroke Association, Age UK, etc. Government websites: DirectGov and NHS Choices provide information on equipment and on how to get hold of equipment
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Local information and advice providers [Insert details of your local council’s social services team or information centre] [Insert details of your local disabled or independent living centre] (details of how to find these on the handout) [Insert details of your 3 rd sector organisation and what you offer. ] You can choose to insert your logo or image of your centre here
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Getting advice through an assessment An assessment can provide someone with detailed information about what equipment, or other services, can best help them. For low-cost, low-tech equipment, an individual may not need an assessment. They can review their needs and use their normal buying skills. For high tech or high cost equipment, after thinking about the What/ Where/ How checklist, an older person should aim to get an assessment. This is generally the case for equipment that may affect balance, mobility, posture, pressure care, ability to summon help, or general safety.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology A social services assessment The social services team will tell you who is entitled to a free assessment and how they can arrange to have an assessment. The criteria for this varies between local councils. Older people may be entitled to a free assessment from their council’s social services department. If the older person you support is not entitled to a free assessment, they will receive advice and information on their options.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Other ways to get an assessment If someone is getting hospital treatment, they may get an assessment automatically. People can also choose to pay for a private assessment. The College of Occupational Therapists has a list. An alternative is to try out an online self assessment programme (e.g. the DLF’s AskSara tool). You could suggest working through this together using their computer or at the library or computer club.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Assessments by retailers One way of identifying a reputable supplier who should offer a trustworthy assessment is to look out for one that has signed up to the British Healthcare Trades Association’s Code of Practice (see handout for details). Some retailers provide a good assessment of a person’s needs, though their main focus is likely to be on selling their range of equipment.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology The assessor, whether they are from the NHS, social services or a retailer, should consider: Why this equipment will suit the individual. The options for different equipment. Other ways of doing what the person wants to do – such as people helping them or doing things differently. Research shows that an older person is more likely to get the right equipment or service if they are actively involved in the assessment process.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Send out for catalogues and factsheets to enable the older person to research the equipment and services they think may meet their needs. Encourage the older person to discuss the information they’ve gathered with their assessor. Supporting older people to get actively involved in the assessment Go through the what/ where/ how checklist together and prepare notes and questions.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Getting hold of equipment Option 1: through social services A social services assessor should tell someone what they are entitled to and how they can get hold of any equipment. This should include advice about buying it themselves if they are not eligible to receive free equipment. If the individual is eligible for support, their local social services may provide them with equipment. This is usually on loan for as long as they need it. There may be a limited choice so you might encourage the individual to ask about alternatives if they are not happy with what they are being offered.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Changes to social services In many areas residents who are eligible for care services can choose to receive a personal budget which can pay for equipment or services that meet their assessed needs. What do you know about getting hold of equipment using personal budgets? One option is to work together to find out what choice this offers the older person, what is required in terms of paperwork and reporting to the council and what impact this might have on getting hold of equipment.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Getting hold of equipment Option 2: buying it One suggestion is to do some research together on the different prices and consumer rights offered for the same product by: –Charities –Specialist companies –High street shops –Websites When it comes to equipment, how much do you know about the buying experiences, consumer rights and guarantees offered by different retailers?
© Foundation for Assistive Technology What to think about if buying equipment What does the price include? Is service and maintenance included? Do batteries/ parts need replacing? What happens if it breaks down? Is it sensible to consider insuring it? Can the equipment be sold or recycled when no longer useful? Suggest the older person notes down what kinds of things they would check when buying a car or washing machine, for example:
© Foundation for Assistive Technology What’s in a kitemark? Retailers displaying the BHTA Code of Practice kitemark must: Give a potential buyer the option to try it for a few days at home. Allow time for buyers to think about it and talk it over with their family. Offer a returns policy if someone finds the equipment doesn’t suit them. Offer a demonstration. Provide information on how to use the equipment, including the manufacturer’s guide.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Buying locally The following sources will help you identify shops in your local area. Your local Disabled Living Centre and disability information services usually provide details of local shops, on local services and suppliers who loan or sell equipment. The BHTA has a directory of member companies. In local phone books search under ‘disability equipment’, ‘medical supplies’ and ‘mobility and access equipment’.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Help with the cost of equipment Some items of equipment may be exempt from VAT if they are designed solely for disabled people. It is worth checking with the supplier whether the equipment qualifies for VAT relief. You could also suggest buying reconditioned and second-hand equipment or hiring equipment. The DLF has a factsheet on sources of funding for equipment, including details of government grants and charity funds.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Ensuring it keeps on being useful How to fit and use any controls The requirements for maintenance and cleaning The MHRA (the government’s safety organisation) states that suppliers and service providers should offer all users of equipment training in the safe use of equipment, for example: You could suggest visiting the older person when the equipment is due to be delivered so that you can both have the training and you can support them to ask for complete instructions.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Keep reviewing the options Support older people to regularly review and reassess their needs because: Where they live, their family and local services may change. How they live their life, their condition, needs and preferences may alter. New and better equipment may become available. What they want to do may change.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology The steps to getting the right equipment 1.What equipment is available 2.Deciding on the right options 3.Sources of information and advice 4.Getting hold of equipment 5.Help with the cost of equipment 6.What to consider when buying equipment 7.Ensuring it keeps on being useful
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Over to you: With your support, this information is the starting point for older people to decide what might be the best solution to staying active. If you don’t have a computer, find a friend, library or online club so that you can support older people to find the information they need. Much of the information we’ve looked at is drawn from Other online resources are noted in the handout sheet.
© Foundation for Assistive Technology Acknowledgements These materials have been produced with funding from the Department of Health and in collaboration with Assist UK, the WRVS and Age UK.
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