Archive | May 2013

COBALT at Sheffield 23rd May

We had 55 attendees including older adults, health and social care staff, academics, third sector workers such as Age UK, assistive living technology (ALT) industry members and commissioning staff from the NHS and City Councils.
The day started with a Technology Interaction session where we asked attendees to work in pairs and use an item of ALT that ourselves and Docobo, City Wide Care Alarms, Simpla Solutions and Age UK Personal Alarms had supplied.
Attendees fed-back that they particularly saw a use for medication devices such as pill dispensers and the pill popper as well as the Docobo Care Portal to monitor their own health.
The themes that came out of this session were that personalisation is key and that a try before you buy scheme is something people would like to see. Following this there was a Q&A panel with Steven Haigh from the Right First Time Programme and Jayne Stocks, Clinical Lead for Assistive Technology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which provoked a lively debate. We then had an activity around service re-design where attendees suggested a community hub, trial service and local ALT champion as changes they would like to see.
On the afternoon session there was a presentation by Claire Bentley, Research Associate on the Barriers to Telecare project at the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR). Claire discussed some of the findings from the project which has used interviews with people who are not currently telecare users including issues around cost, stigma and awareness of which telecare products are available.

We then had a Q&A with one of our Pioneer Group participants. She was more open to technology because of the group and that we should harness things such as telecare than can help as we get older. Finally we had an action planning activity where attendees detailed what they would do as a result of the day. These included collaborating with people they had met on the day and researching new technologies for themselves and service users.

Before the summary of the day attendees completed feedback forms which were overwhelmingly positive. The main theme for positive feedback was that the day had been a great networking opportunity which had given attendees the potential to work together.

This was fantastic considering the main aim of the day was to bring people together to overcome the barrier to ALT adoption of lack of service integration.
The next step is to replicate the success of this event in Swindon (13th June), Edinburgh (20th June) and Cambridge (11th July). To book your place please email Dr. Maggie Ellis on

Brian’s blog – Sunday 11th May 2013

Hello all. Here I am again after another extended break. Dr Maggie still visits me and on her latest visit the task was for me to relearn how to use a memory stick. Some years ago, before I was diagnosed with Dementia, I would use a memory stick probably every day and it was invaluable to me in my employment. Alas all those memories have completely gone and it only with the patience of Dr Maggie that I have managed to get back to the stage I am at now. Originally when I first met Dr Maggie she had to go back to the very beginning with me and start with very easy to understand tasks on my computer. She did not mind that it usually took very repetitive instructions over a period of weeks and months before I finally got it.
Anyone who has read my previous Blogs will know how difficult things were for me after I was diagnosed. That was three years ago and I am still in the early stage of my Dementia. I spoke with my Consultant last week and he was delighted to hear how successful Dr Maggie has been in such a short time. To be honest, he looked astonished when I demonstrated the use of my I.Phone.

Before I was asked to take part in COBALT I had very little interest in re-learning or in fact learning something new. I thought those days had passed me by. It also took me into a completely new place. I was transferring my new technology skills into writing presentations and going on to actually deliver them to some well attended Conferences.

This was down to Dr Maggie and the confidence she had in me.

I am always delighted to discuss COBALT with anyone who will listen. I am equally delighted when I am asked to make public presentations but only with the knowledge that usually Dr Maggie is close by.

All this learning and re-learning has brought about the opportunity for me to be extended the honour of attending the Alzheimer Europe Conference and delivering a Presentation to this influential body. I will be representing The Scottish Dementia Working Group on this occasion and will be given the opportunity to further their aims. By a stroke of good luck the Conference is to be held in Malta, so I am also getting the added bonus of having some time in the sun.

I am giving a presentation next week. The theme is “A Dementia Friendly Community”

I think it goes without saying but I will anyway. Thank you Dr Maggie Ellis.