NRS Healthcare launch first of its kind Assistive Technology service

NRS Healthcare has recently launched a new Assistive Technology service for North Yorkshire County Council. Phil Boulton, Mobilisation Manager for NRS, explains what the service entails…

“We were awarded the contract in March and the service went live in May, some 6 weeks later. There was already an existing assistive technology service in North Yorkshire but it was very different, and provided by six different providers, each with a catchment area to cover. The Council was looking for one provider to manage the whole process across the county, providing a single, joined up service from referral, assessment, installation and servicing. Just as importantly, they also wanted a strategic partner to help them turn Assistive Technology into a core part of the thinking of their social care and health professionals when looking at how they could help service users and patients. So as well as delivering the service, we will be working with North Yorkshire to implement a strategy to make Assistive Technology a mainstream part of their provision of care. We will also be putting in place a self funding website and publicity programme, so that residents who want to pay for their own equipment and service can do so. Over the next few years, the plan is to significantly increase the number of people using Assistive Technology to help them remain living independently at home, and at the same time show how this is saving the Council and NHS significant sums by reducing the need for other more expense support, and reducing or delaying people needing to go into hospital or care homes.”

‘Assistive technology’ encompasses devices and equipment that can help support people to live at home independently. It includes monitored services, where devices in the home are linked to a call centre, providing people 24/7 peace of mind that someone will be alerted if they, for example, have a fall and need assistance. Assistive technology may also include ‘stand-alone’ equipment that does not connect to a call centre, but which can often be programmed to alert family or friends in the same home or living nearby that the person needs help. Other examples of stand-alone equipment may include GPS trackers, fall detectors and epilepsy monitors.

“NRS Healthcare are responsible for the whole service across North Yorkshire, and for working with the local authority to develop new ideas and introduce new technology over the coming years. Health and social care professionals working for the council or NHS, identify clients who they think will benefit from AT and send the referral to us. Our triage team examine each referral and decide whether an assessment can be completed over the phone or at the person’s home, and what the priority level is. If the triage officer believes a face-to-face assessment is required, we will send one of our Occupational Therapists or AT Assessor Installers to visit the client, assess their needs, and if possible, install the appropriate equipment there and then.”

“Our installers explain the equipment carefully to the service user, and let them know how to contact us if they have any problems. We also follow-up with the service user a few weeks after installation, to ensure everything is working correctly. We are responsible for servicing and repairing the equipment as and when required. All equipment is funded for the first six weeks by North Yorkshire council, and then the service users can decide whether or not they will still benefit from the equipment, and can choose to fund it themselves. The service is run from our service centre in York by Paul Lawrence, Service Manager, and a team of 6 employees. We are working in partnership with Centra, who operate the call centre monitoring service and respond to alerts from our service users. We’re also working with North Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) who provide ‘first responders’."

“My role as Mobilisation Manager is to oversee the implementation of the service and mediate between all the teams at NRS and the Council, to help bring everyone together to work in partnership and establish the best possible service for our service users. Recruitment has been a challenge, but I’m really proud of the team who are all new to the business and are hitting the ground running. The contract will be for a minimum period of 3 years, with an option to extend for a period of 1 year and then a further period of 1 year."