Breaking Down the Barriers to Accessing Digital Care Services in Suffolk Communities

As a largely rural county, Suffolk County Council is committed to providing a wide range of accessible local care support services to help residents continue to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

This approach is even more important at the current time with Covid prevalent in the community, and the authority has successfully adapted its services through the use of technology to reduce risks to the health of residents as well as staff at this time.

Making the most of the advances in digital technology and keeping residents and communities connected has really proved successful in recent months as more and more people see the benefits of using the range of opportunities to personalise the care services they receive through digital options.

As a result of Suffolk 2020 project funding, the Council is launching a new initiative to adapt and kit out a number of community vehicles with digital connectivity and provide a showcase for a range of supportive technology and digital solutions to take out and about into local communities, introducing residents to the potential benefits of using the equipment and services.

Last year, Suffolk County Council successfully introduced the use of video carephones to people who may be vulnerable or shielding, to help them stay connected with friends and loved ones during periods of isolation. As part of this Covid response, it became increasingly clear that there was a significant number of other elderly, vulnerable and isolated people in Suffolk who do not have the ability to access technology or connectivity but may find such services useful and beneficial. Such an approach has already proved to be successful in other parts of the UK and is supported by national and regional data.

The plan is for Suffolk County Council is enhance existing community vehicles as ‘Mobile Digital Care Hubs’ to enable residents to experience some of the digital care technologies first-hand to better understand opportunities available to them and if they would support them to meet their individual needs. The vehicles will be travelling around the county with a focus on reaching those who live in more isolated areas of Suffolk.

The project will provide a chance for skilled members of staff to talk about, show and demonstrate some of these technologies first-hand and provide a better understanding of how digital care can help individuals to live more safely and independently for longer.

Digital care solutions offer a wide range of other benefits including improved wellbeing and the ability to stay better connected with family, friends and other people who may offer invaluable support.

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: “Projects like this help break down the barriers that might otherwise restrict or stop Suffolk’s vulnerable residents from accessing and benefiting from the services available through digital care.

“Digital care solutions help to supplement existing care and bolster support provided by our experienced, committed and excellent team of carers during these difficult times. By helping to keep people connected we have seen many positive benefits supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of people, evidenced by speaking to family members, care providers and local support networks.

“Digital enablement is vital for the future of care delivery in Suffolk and is something that has become ever more pronounced during the course of the last year.”

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