The West Midlands developed AskTARA website is to be launched nationally on 1 October 2011 (NHS Local announcement). The site will initially target telecare and telehealth products, but will expand to take in a range of services such as personal support assistants, carers and residential and domiciliary care. AskTARA.
CORRECTION 13:10 The original item stated that AskTARA was based on the Disabled Living Association’s (DLF) AskSARA database/site. It was an incorrect assumption on the part of editor Steve (based on the similarity of the name and content) that AskTARA was a licenced offshoot of AskSARA. I understand from the DLF that this is not the case and, in fact, it’s functionality is much less. Pity. They might have saved themselves some of that development cost.Compare AskTARA also with the DLF’s Living Made Easy site (scroll down for the Telecare and Alarms section).
It’s a great ideal to have an online searchable database but it was a bit of a surprise to find:
(a) no advice to help select the best and most appropriate item, and
(b) it is actually a shop!
I suspect that this may encourage people to choose the cheapest items (which may not be the best). Worse still, they may not be aware of issues of interoperability and be left both out of pocket and frustrated that the selected combinations don’t actually work in the way that they intended. Having items of telecare left on local authority shelves is bad enough, having it unused and in the hands of the public will give AT and telecare a bad name.
I believe that there is a need for a general website/store for assisted living services that can be accessed by members of the public to get a general feel for what’s available. I suspect, however, that many people may wish to see and try out devices before buying them. This might encourage more local telecare service providers and retailers to open demonstration facilities where informed staff would be available to offer advice.
CUHTec members have been clear in articulating their need for expert advice and opinion on telecare devices for their professional assessors and prescribers. This would enable them to choose the best possible solutions in complex cases and to offer the maximum choice in other situations. This was a major motivation for the development of the Telecare EPG in conjunction with T-Cubed. Group comparison reports in the EPG, such as the recent one on GPS location devices (and forthcoming ones on bed exit alarms and automatic medication reminder/dispensing devices) focus on usability and value for money in a context of decision support. They are the result of extensive trials by T-Cubed and CUHTec members, and are supported by the experience, expertise and reputations of a number of professionals.
This information may not be suitable for members of the public without considerable editing – but will be essential to:
• local authorities who want to ensure that service users are offered the best solution,
• service providers who need to have an equipment inventory that best supports their service, and
• equipment suppliers who are looking for an efficient way of performing market research.
I support any development that raises awareness in AT and telecare as the failure to fully engage both health and social care professionals and the public remains one of the biggest obstacles to the development of high quality and sustainable telecare services.
I’m depressed at the choice by the Birmingham based CIC behind AskTara to duplicate a really good existing resource from the DLF, undermine it and use the similarity in name to borrow a bit of credibility. (Apologies if this turns out to be a bit harsh.)
I’m putting forward a plea for organisations in this sector to start to work together, and collaboratively develop new service chains rather than trying to monopolise the whole thing within one organisation. It’s wasteful and doesn’t do good organisations in the sector, or disabled and older people any favours.
If some existing services are not completely what you need, discuss this with the provider, work (and invest) to improve the service and then share the revenues. Otherwise it becomes dog eat dog and we don’t scale up.
(Rant is now officially over).
Keren is right about the waste of public money spent in producing a website that so closely resembles the one produced by the DLF. What I can’t understand is why West Midlands councils have spent all this money on such a website at this time when only last year they were telling us how good the new Alvolution comparison site was going to be. It seems that this too was produced using public money, and was (or perhaps still is) aimed at the very same members of the public who are interested in assisted living.
I’ve not had a chance to see the Telecare EPG but I understand that it has been produced without a penny of support from the public purse. The licence fee is a nuisance but if it pays for the maintenance and extension of an independent service, it sounds like a much more honest and straightforward business approach which I would be tempted to use if I was still a commissioner; it appears to offer professional staff expert and current knowledge on telecare devices that isn’t available to the general public.
Professionals from many areas of the UK have contributed their expertise to build the knowledge within the ADL Smartcare Electronic Assistive Technology advise site, which enables older people to assess themselves for Telecare products as well as thousands of other aids to daily living.ADL Smartcare would be happy to partner with other organisations to the benefit of everyone in the UK.
Contact ADL Smartcare for further information Tel: 0800 612 6845 email email@example.com
ADL Smartcare is a great general resource for Assistive Technology, but it lacks the sort of detail and advice that is needed for telecare prescriptions, especially when connected solutions are required. There are issues of compatibility, interoperability, maintainability, Next Generation Networks and emergency response protocols to consider, all of which could lead to waste and inappropriate outcomes unless the prescriber sets up a service in a formal manner (preferably using an accredited organisation). To get these things right for telecare (which is quickly morphing into telehealthcare), I believe that commissioners and prescribers need specialist help as well as the sort of general support and catalogue options that many websites and professionals now provide.