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Northern Ireland-based North West Regional College (NWRC) has launched a unique health innovation hub to promote innovative solutions that encourage independent living as well as provide advice clinics for clients and carers.

The Design Innovation Assisted Living Centre (DIAL) is located at NWRC’s Derry campus, providing a space where education, business and the health and social care sector can work together.

DIAL will operate as a demonstration centre for solutions to support independence, ranging from specialised equipment, e-health, and smart bespoke digital solutions such as Eye Gaze technology, all showcasing how assistive devices can promote wellbeing in the home.

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Additionally, the new innovation hub offers advice clinics for clients and carers as well as live modelling of design guidelines, standards and principles – like design for dementia.

Sarah Travers, who lost her dad to an aggressive form of dementia in 2013, said:  “The new DIAL centre is a fantastic opportunity to improve the lives of those with life limiting or degenerative conditions allowing people to stay at home for longer whilst also providing the best training possible for social care students and encouraging those pursuing a career in technical innovation the opportunity to design and develop adaptive technologies that really work.  At a time when all budgets are stretched this is a wonderful example of joined up thinking that will really benefit society.”

DIAL has been developed by NWRC in conjunction with the Department for the Economy and Connected NI. The facility is also home to NWRC’s Academy of Enhanced Care and Clinical Skills, providing flexible and bespoke learning for the professional workforce, informal carers, and the community.

Geraldine Lavery, Department Head of Health and Social Care at NWRC, said the DIAL centre will make a significant impact to the lives of local people and their carers who are facing the challenge of living independently at home.

She added: “DIAL is a health innovation hub with a focus to promote collaboration, learning and innovation so that improved practice models and solutions are developed that will support independence and a quality of life for greater numbers of people to live well at home.

“DIAL is consciously located at the heart of NWRCs largest further education campus close to a wide range of curriculum and skill areas and presents a unique context to not only equip future workforce for Health and Care, but to cultivate the interest and talents of young people in adjacent curriculum and so build future generation capability benefitting industry and community.”

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