Practitioners help create new professional hub to support independent living
A “ground-breaking” new hub has been launched to make it easier for health, care and housing professionals to prescribe equipment that enables vulnerable people to live independently.
ProAssist has been created by the charity Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) in partnership with the TEC Services Association (TSA), the national body for technology enabled care (TEC) services. Practitioners also helped develop the new independent living hub and it is supported by TEC firm Tunstall Healthcare.
For the first time, professionals will be able to access a secure, reliable, independent and comprehensive resource where products are accompanied by clinical observations, case studies, user guides, videos and information on local suppliers.
With a searchable database of over 10,000 products from more than 900 retailers, this UK-wide resource helps identify the options across a wide range of technologies, from the latest assistive technology solutions to simple aids.
It is free to use for a promotional period to allow prescribers to see the benefits of the hub to their practice. After this period, members of a range of professional bodies and national organisations – including TSA – will have free access for the period of their membership.
Subscriptions are also available and DLF ProAssist can be tailored under licence to integrate with local community equipment portfolios.
Thousands of users are expected to benefit from its guidance and information to support their selection of suitable solutions.
Alyson Scurfield, Chief Executive of TSA, commented: “We want to encourage greater involvement and faster adoption of TEC and this new tool will enable users to confidently engage with technology that can improve people’s lives.
“We believe it has the potential to help raise standards at the same time as speeding up people’s access to personalised tailored solutions that are right for them.”
Research carried out by the DLF in 2019 showed prescribers tend to recommend familiar products or rely on Google searches to find information and are often overwhelmed by the volume of information available from a multitude of sources.
Using a search engine is often a long-winded method of finding and organising information on products, the charity notes.
By contrast, DLF ProAssist helps users navigate less common and emerging technologies with confidence and enables them to devise the optimal personalised solutions for their clients.
Users have a login to enable a more tailored experience. After finding the information required, DLF ProAssist also enables the user to import it into a choice of templates that can be edited to suit their needs, including recommendations to clients and justifications.
The DLF and TSA believe DLF ProAssist will become the go-to trusted reference resource.
In addition to the in-depth product information, users also have access to reports, case studies and research relating to the solutions. Users and professional bodies can submit documents for publication and wider sharing and log clinical observations about the equipment they have deployed.
Over time these observations will build into a valuable bank of feedback on product effectiveness, providing the UK’s only collaborative hub of its type with shared experiences.
Designed to be flexible and easy to use, DLF ProAssist will learn from users so that it prompts and highlights further solution options to provide a more holistic outcome.
Clare Barber, who manages the DLF for Professionals programme, said: “We want prescribers to have the confidence to consider recommending items from a number of product categories, combining TEC with more traditional solutions.
“DLF ProAssist will enable the user to quickly produce proposals, case notes and reports to support their decisions. This will be the first central national resource of its type for professionals involved in assessing for independent solutions combining impartial information and advice and shared clinical feedback.”
Users can navigate the tool in a number of ways including by functional need and by simple search, focusing more on outcomes.
The DLF is the first organisation to adopt an international classification system based on ISO standards for assistive technology that organises products according to functional need, an approach that occupational therapists in particular will instantly recognise, the charity adds.
Gavin Bashar, Managing Director UK & Ireland at Tunstall Healthcare, added: “TEC solutions will play an increasingly important role in how we support people with long term health and care needs, as well as achieving the aims of the recent Health and Social Care White Paper.
“Tunstall recognises the need to invest in the development of health, housing and social care professionals to help them identify solutions to support outcomes and develop a technology first approach as we move towards a more empowered and proactive approach to care.”
DLF ProAssist is part of the DLF for Professionals programme. The charity recommends that professionals unfamiliar with assessing use the AskSARA online guided advice tool to support guided conversations part of the Living Made Easy information and advice portal for the public.
The TSA is the representative body for TEC services across the UK, working on behalf of, and advising, organisations including telecare and telehealth service providers, suppliers, housing associations, care providers, emergency services, academia, charities, government bodies and health and social care commissioners.