Vodafone, through Vodafone Business Ventures, has partnered with the UK’s leading learning disability charity, Mencap, over the Connected Living project, which uses technology to enhance the quality of life for people with learning disabilities, while also providing support workers with complementary tools to use in providing personalized care.
Co-designed by Vodafone, support workers and people with learning disabilities living in Mencap’s supported living services, Connected Living was piloted successfully over 12 months in locations across Hampshire, Sussex, Somerset, Cornwall, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Suffolk. The partnership has involved people with a learning disability and support workers and service managers. It combines Vodafone’s expertise in IoT and connectivity with Mencap’s experience of improving the quality of life for people with a learning disability.
The pilot focused on how to make everyday activities easier, including household tasks, time planning and socializing. Technologies, including a range of user-friendly IoT, enabled devices were installed in Mencap Supported Living homes controlled by a bespoke app, called Vodafone MyLife. Said app gives Mencap’s clients control of their smart devices, while also enabling their support workers to have remote access. In addition, it allows users to create visual guides for everyday tasks and a host of other features such as:
- My Room – enables residents to manage smart plugs, smart locks, and smart lights via the app.
- How To – allows residents and support workers to create visual guides for everyday tasks.
- My Day – is a personalized diary management tool that enables users to create daily reminders for everyday tasks.
- My Talk – provides those with speech problems another way to communicate, via personalized images, text and a speech function.
- Call Support – allows prompt remote support via a digital ‘panic button’ that allows two-way video calling between residents and support workers with one touch.
- To Do List – enables tenants to create easy to manage to do lists to encourage them to carry out and tick off tasks throughout the day.
- My Front Door – enables residents to answer their front door and check who is calling from anywhere in the house.
Other IoT technologies trialed include activity sensors and smart locks.
“There are more than 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK and they face inequalities in every area of their life. They are more likely to live in poverty, be isolated, less likely to be in employment and often don’t have access to technology, which is a barrier in itself. Day-to-day tasks, which many of us take for granted, can be a real struggle. Technology can provide simple solutions to enable them to take control and have greater independence and that really makes a difference. We are committed to improving the lives of people with a learning disability — we don’t want them to be left out and we know that in an increasingly digital world, we need to be innovative about our approach,” Steve Baker, Operations Director from Mencap, said in a statement. “It was important to us to make this a truly collaborative project – that the people we support ended up with something truly bespoke that gave them exactly what they needed. This wasn’t about off-the shelf tech — so as world leaders in IoT, Vodafone were the perfect partner. The most rewarding thing has been to see it working and the life changing impact it can have for the people we support and their support workers, who do such an amazing and challenging job.”