KCC assistive technology image

Kent County Council’s commissioned technology-enabled care (TEC) project, Kara, has won an award at the Health Tech Digital Awards 2022 for its use of pioneering assistive technology to help vulnerable residents stay safe and connected during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

This year’s Health Tech Digital Awards took place on 1 August. The awards help to share and celebrate digital teams, programmes, innovations, and healthtech suppliers that have made a difference throughout the year.

Kent County Council (KCC) won an award in the ‘Best COVID-19 Solution for Safeguarding the Vulnerable’ category.

In March 2020, KCC commissioned healthcare transformation consultancy Rethink Partners and TEC specialist Alcove to launch a programme to deliver up to 2,000 video carephones to vulnerable people in the county as part of a swift and innovative social care response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

By the end of July 2020, Alcove had equipped 1,700 vulnerable adults with easy-to-use carephones so they could talk to friends, family, carers and professionals when they were unable to meet due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Commenting on winning an award, Clair Bell, KCC Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “I am thrilled that this project has been nationally recognised again with another well-deserved accolade for its ground-breaking application during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At a time when our residents were most at risk of the devastating effects of isolation and loneliness, we were able to quickly provide a real lifeline to those most in need, enabling them to continue to live independently and have access to care services to monitor and ensure their ongoing wellbeing.

“This award is testament to the huge positive difference digital solutions can make to our vulnerable residents. My congratulations and thanks go to Alcove, and everyone else involved, for their hard work and dedication in delivering such a wonderful project under extremely difficult circumstances.”

The carephones, a “one touch” secure tablet-type device, provided video calling to each individual’s support network and an easy way for them to conduct online activities such as ordering essential supplies and staying video connected with their loved ones.

KCC support staff were able to continue to closely monitor care needs and ensure that residents were safe and healthy.

Support and training were also given to health and care professionals, including those working in care homes and in the community, so they were able to help vulnerable people in their care to make the most of the technology daily.

Hellen Bowey, CEO of Alcove, added: “Once again, I am absolutely delighted to see the Kara project being recognised for its life changing role during Covid to the residents of Kent who were desperate to keep in touch with loved ones but had no means to do so via digital (let alone video in a simple, one touch way).

“I’m even more delighted to announce that since Covid started Kara has gone from strength to strength and has now delivered over 2,700 referrals to Alcove for Kara and 2 million Minutes spent on Kara (that’s over 30,000 hours!) between the wonderfully supportive older and disabled residents, their loved ones and their carers and health professionals.

“It’s just completely game changing. We brought digital in a large scale to the people who needed it most in Kent, and we are very, very grateful for the recognition of this via these national awards. Thank you.”

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