North West health and social care charity Alternative Futures Group celebrated National Technology Day by offering the people it supports the chance to borrow a range of automated items including robotic pets, voice assistive technology, and VR headsets to enhance their lives and achieve their goals.
How a Tech Lending Library is transforming lives in social care
North West health and social care charity Alternative Futures Group (AFG) is celebrating National Technology Day by offering the people it supports the chance to borrow a range of automated items including robotic pets, voice assistive technology, and VR headsets to enhance their lives and achieve their goals.
National Technology Day, which takes place on 6 January 2024, recognises how technology changes the world, and looks to the future of technology. For those being supported by AFG, technology can transform their lives for the better by supporting their independence and communication, and in some cases can decrease feelings of anxiety and loneliness. This is why the organisation that supports over 900 people in the North West houses a Tech Lending Library that allows those it supports to borrow and try out different technologies.
Anthony, 47, is supported by Alternative Futures Group in Lancaster and has seen great improvements in his physical and mental health through borrowing a smartphone and smartwatch from the AFG library.
Anthony, who has a learning disability and is non-verbal, took an interest in his support team’s mobile phones and photos. The team organised for Anthony to borrow a phone from the tech library to see if he could use it to take photos of his own.
Michael Dobson, Anthony’s Support Worker said: “He got used to navigating around the phone really quickly and it’s been amazing to see Anthony pursue his passion in photography, be creative, and build his own albums of memories with photos he has taken himself.
Seeing how quickly Anthony responded to the technology, his team organised the purchase of Anthony’s own phone and for him to try out a smartwatch from the library.
Michael said: “Although Anthony faces challenges in reading and writing, he found motivation in tracking the increasing numbers on his smartwatch as a measure of his daily progress. He is now much more enthusiastic about going outside and wants to go on walks every day, and his fitness and mood have improved as a result.
“He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to test out these items if it wasn’t for the Tech Lending Library. Both the smartphone and watch have improved his mood, physical wellbeing and confidence, which has been amazing to see.”
Carol Toner, AFG Head of Business Development said: “We’re proud to offer the people we support the opportunity to try out tech they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to use otherwise.
“We understand the pivotal role tech plays breaking down barriers and fostering independence for individuals like Anthony and Stella, and we are continuously adding to our collection to further enhance the lives of the people we support.”
Header Image caption: Anthony with AFG carer, Lindsay Sumner