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Technology can change the lives of persons with learning disability: an inspiring training at hft in UK

Karin Astegger's picture

In March 2018 eleven delegates from seven Lebenshilfe organisations in Austria participated in a three days training on person centred technology that hft tailored to our interests and learning needs. We already reported about the Erasmus+ Project supporting us to engage in international learning experiences regarding PCT.

Through a diverse and comprehensive program experts from hft and their cooperation partners gave us an overview of their person centred technology approaches, a wide range of possibilities for implementation, success factors and challenges.

During site visits to the Liverpool Telehealth hub and supported living services in Cheshire and Merseyside we could learn about the views of staff and service users, and we had the opportunity to try out assistive devices and/ or see how they are used.

One of our most impressive experiences were not the technological solutions themselves, but the deeply person centred way in which they are tailored to the needs and wishes of every single person and his/ her lifestyle preferences, and thus achieving positive outcomes for people’s lives. We also admired hft’s evaluation and documentation system inviting both staff’s and service users’ inputs in everyday life situations and supporting them with mobile devices.

Picture of participantsCartoon "Who wants to change?"

Although Lebenshilfe organisations don’t work directly with health services, we were impressed by the concept of the NHS telehealth in Liverpool, and its great impact for the citizens as measured by empirical studies. Emergency admissions decreased by 30% and 90% of the patients feel more in control and can continue living at home.

Both hft and their partners put much emphasis on awareness raising and staff training for the implementation of innovative services and their positive outcomes.

After each day of training the delegates from Lebenshilfe reflected on the most important lessons learned and how to use them for the implementation of similar approaches in Austria. We consider the following issues as central for our success:

  • Successful implementation of PCT is about “service design”, not about “product design” – PCT is just one of the tools supporting people, and they have to be tailored to a person’s idea of his/ her life.
  • We have to work with a broad definition of PCT ranging from simple devices to complex technological solutions.
  • We need a dedicated expert team within the organisation as well as cooperation with a network of external experts.
  • We should also use technical solutions to enhance service users’ influence on service and organisational development e.g. by designing accessible digital solutions for documentation and evaluation.
  • Awareness raising and training for all stakeholders have to be taken very seriously – within our organisations and by influencing curriculum development in vocational training centres.

After our third training with Learning Disability Wales in June 2018 we will organise a two days meeting of all Lebenshilfe organisations in Austria. We will take stock of what we learned and develop strategies and measures for implementation.

 

Karin Astegger

 

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