After having visited Bologna and Liverpool, our last mobility in June 2018 led us to Wales/ UK.
A group of ten delegates from six Lebenshilfe organisations in Austria visited Learning Disability Wales giving us the opportunity to learn about successful approaches for person centred technology during a two days training. A self-advocate with learning disability was part of the group. The course focused on awareness-raising and training for persons with learning disability, their families and staff.
Learning disability Wales is an umbrella organisation of regional service providers for persons with learning disability. We chose them for the topic of our last training because they have advocated for years for the use of person centred technology to increase quality of life of service users. They also engaged in several international projects on this topic.
Our expectations have not been disappointed! Competent trainers introduced long-standing and effective approaches for person centred technology implemented by different service providers in Wales. We also got a good overview on tele-health and tele-care approaches. It was frustrating to hear that due to cost savings by the authorities efforts have been rather stagnating recently.
It was an important realisation for us that assistive technology does not only foster participation of persons with high support needs, but relatively cheap mainstream technology has the potential to further increase self-determination of already quite independent persons. We had the opportunity to meet and exchange directly with service users who confirmed quite unanimously that technology had a big impact on their quality of life.
All participants of the training agreed that it was essential to work on attitudes and awareness regarding technical aids in our organisations. Fears and reluctance in use must be challenged proactively. Story telling is one of the best ways to achieve this goal. Success stories encourage and inspire the creativity necessary for implementing individual and person centred solutions. Awareness-raising is key to successful use of technology increasing quality of life of service users.
Our group also benefitted from the intensive exchanges among each other. Colleagues from different federal states of Austria had come together and reflected on the new insights from their respective professional backgrounds.
During their stay in the exciting city of Cardiff the delegates enjoyed beautiful summer weather and great hospitality.
At the end of September delegates from all mobilities will meet in Salzburg to discuss what has been learnt and how it can be used to change our organisations and make better use of person centred technology to improve the quality of life of our service users.
Karin Astegger & Monika Daoudi-Rosenhammer