South Tyneside Council has been awarded £20,000 to investigate how technology can be used to improve communication with people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
The Council is one of just 12 across the country which have been selected from 80 to receive the funding from NHS Digital and the Local Government Association to explore how technology can help shape the future of social care.
A pilot project – entitled A Better Life? My Choice, My Say, My Way! will seek to find out if any digital solutions exist that would improve conversations between professionals and adults with learning disabilities and/or autism, ensuring that the focus is on how they want to live their lives and what they want to achieve.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said: “We know that sometimes adults with autism or a learning disability find it difficult to get their points across. This can sometimes leave them feeling as though they have no control over their lives.
“We are keen to understand how digital technologies can be used to improve the conversations we have with people who have learning disabilities or autism, including those who do not use speech to communicate.
“By working with them, we can identify what they want which, in turn, will help us improve the support they access.”
During the discovery phase of the project the Council will work with local charities Your Voice Counts and Autismable to gauge the views of various groups who could benefit from the project.
Councillor Dixon added: “We are delighted to be awarded the first round of funding which will allow us to explore the challenges around co-designing and developing an accessible, flexible and intuitive solution. By incorporating adaptive and assistive technology we would aim for it to be accessible to everyone needing social care.”
James Palmer, Programme Lead for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital, said: “This funding will give the local authorities a chance to identify and investigate a local problem before testing out a potential solution. They will be sharing their experiences from the pilot projects, adding to our collective knowledge of how digital can effectively be used to support the delivery of adult social care.”