Norfolk council is looking at new ways of keeping elderly people living in their homes for longer as the need to make huge savings on adult and social care puts pressure on bosses to focus on keeping people from having to go into residential care.
Amazon visited Norfolk County Hall to explain and demonstrate how the Alexa device can be used to help elderly people live more independently, for example, by ordering shopping and controlling lights and thermostats.
Alexa devices have already been adopted by some councils in the UK as assistive living aids, thanks to their ability to set medication reminders and send alerts in the event of a fall.
The council hopes assistive technology like Alexa will help it to curb its spending on adult and social care, which currently amounts to around £1m a day. The council’s adult social care department must make £27m of savings this year and is focusing on keeping people out of residential care and in their own homes.
A report by council officers said: “Traditional assistive technology was expensive to buy and maintain and was very hard to integrate with other systems.
“The new wave of technologies are much cheaper, easier to integrate and combine with other systems and equipment, easier to deploy, maintain and can be connected in a variety of ways.
“Much of the technology that will be installed is now low in cost and aimed at the public to install and maintain themselves.
“Information management and technology staff have already been testing out a variety of Amazon echo devices, linked to sensors and connected devices in their own homes, initial results are very encouraging in terms of effectiveness and ease of use.”