REVOLUTIONARY voice-activated technology will be trialled on elderly people receiving social care in a world-first.
Amazon Echo’s ‘Alexa’ technology will be used by 50 adult social care clients receiving support from Hampshire County Council.
The local authority has teamed up with its partner, Argenti Telehealthcare Partnership and Amazon to trial the technology which works with wi-fi and bluetooth connectivity.
Users – who will all receive their own device – will be able to ask the voice-activated gadget to remind them when to take their medication and to check when their carer is due to arrive.
Councillor Liz Fairhurst, the authority’s executive member for adult social care, said: ‘This is a world first for the county council and our care technology partners.
‘Working directly with Amazon will ensure our trial is backed by the experience of one of the biggest internet-based retailers in the world.
We are very excited about the possibilities this project could open up in the future and its potential to benefit the future of social care.Councillor Liz Fairhurst
‘We are very excited about the possibilities this project could open up in the future and its potential to benefit the future of social care.’
The authority received £50,000 from the Local Government Association to make the trial happen.
The technology will be used to support and manage the needs of the 50 clients, avoiding the need for any additional care packages.
It will be specially-designed in the Amazon Echo devices and will be in place within the tester’s home by the end of the year.
In addition to reminding clients when to take medication, the council is pushing for the technology to advise users on remembering to drink, by using motion sensors in the home. And Alexa could be used to encourage users to keep fit, suggesting walking routes.
Argenti was previously commissioned by the council in 2013, and look after more than 8,500 clients through care technology,
According to the authority, the programme saved it £4.7m in is first three years of use. Under the council’s work with Argenti, the partnership has won awards such as the Local Government Chronicle Award for delivering efficiency through technology last year.
Steve Carefull, adult care expert at the partnership, said: ‘Our award-winning work with the council is industry leading, and we are proud to be working with one of the biggest household names to help the authority to deliver innovative services to the most vulnerable people.
‘This technology can complement support from human carers and help ensure resources are focused on supporting those with the greatest needs.’