This morning, as part of the Our Place Wye programme, I went to a presentation of HealthAlert24 which is described as a “connectivity hub”: a simple touchscreen computer which offers support to those who aren’t regularly online/ do not have a history of computer use.
So what exactly does it consist of? Well.. it’s a normal touchscreen computer but any website or connectivity is vetted and routed through the company (HealthAlert24). So there are no confusing messages suggesting updates. No junk mail. And the only websites that can be accessed are those which have chosen by the user and uploaded onto the system by HealthAlert24.
In addition the system offers further support should the user require it: it can be programmed to issue a reminder to take medication for example. Or it can be linked to carers in the community so that users can call for help. In short it has a variety of uses that can be carefully tailored to suit the capability and needs of the user.
It was an interesting presentation – both because of the technology itself which offers a possible glimpse of the future, but also because of a number of issues that were brought up by those present. In particular:
- a number of stories that confirmed that many members of our community are extremely isolated and vulnerable.
- a feeling that such technology should not replace face-to-face care. (This is acknowledged by the company who say that the technology should increase face to face communication and connection.)
- some people felt that to introduce such a system, one would need an individual to help train users but also to monitor interaction. We wondered whether this might be something for a village agent?
- we wondered whether the village needed a physical hub for deliveries of shopping and parcels. This would serve to protect the vulnerable. Such doorstep deliveries would only be made by recognisable individuals.
- some people felt that the system would only work if there was a good network of local carers to support users. (ie. people who would be on hand to fetch shopping/ pick up medication from the surgery etc)
HealthAlert24 are looking for people in Wye who might be interested in trialling the system for six months at no cost to see how their technology might work in a community setting. Please get in touch with Dave Martin (dave at davemartin.org) if you’re interested.