A charity has built a virtual smarthouse that disabled people can explore to see what products are available to help them live more independently at home and then buy them from internet retailers.
Learning disabilities charity Hft unveiled the virtual smarthouse as part of a new paper that it launched setting out the case for a deal for the learning disability sector that could stimulate investment in assistive technologies.
The smarthouse categorises devices by rooms and users can click on the technology to get more information about it and how it can help them.
Users are then given the option of linking to a retailer’s website to purchase the device. Each device lists around two or three retailers stocking various items to cater for a specific need in the home.
The house has already pooled together a number of living aid retailers and equipment suppliers. Retailers currently listed on the site include Amazon, NRS Healthcare, Doro and Closomat.
NRS Healthcare took over one of the market’s largest online mobility retailers last year when it bought the owner of the Complete Care Shop.
Hft says it is not affiliated to any particular brands, products or suppliers, and it does not sell any technology directly. The suppliers on its website are ones it has previously used and are “included for convenience”, it says.
Hft and Tunstall Healthcare, which worked on the report with the charity, believe the successful negotiation of a learning disability sector deal would enable effective investment that could unlock the potential of assistive technologies.
The partners argue that this would stimulate innovation and investment in future services, bring financial sustainability to providers within the sector, and ultimately deliver enhanced outcomes for people with learning disabilities.
Hft chief executive, Robert Longley-Cook said: “As it stands, the learning disability sector accounts for around a third of adult social care spend in England and demand is growing rapidly as life expectancy increases.
“Despite increased demand, local authority expenditure has not kept up, leading to an anticipated funding gap of £5 billion by 2020.
“With the funding crisis affecting the sustainability of adult social care, the sector and the government must come together to successfully negotiate a learning disability sector deal.
“Assistive technology has a key part to play in bridging that gap. Effective investment could transform the way support is delivered to people with learning disabilities and increase their independence, ultimately freeing up staff to focus on more meaningful support.”