Funding for innovative medicine pilot is just what the doctor ordered

An innovative pilot project that helps people with serious health conditions take their medication is getting off the ground thanks to a £20,000 funding boost.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been awarded the money by NHS Digital and the Local Government Association in the first ‘discovery’ phase of funding, to investigate local challenges that could be addressed using digital technology.

The County Council is one of 12 councils, out of a total of 82 that applied, to have been chosen to explore how technology could help shape the future of social care. Six will then be chosen to receive further funding of up to £80,000 to design and implement their solution.

Commissioned by NHS Digital and managed by the Local Government Association, the programme is for digital pilots by councils that will benefit people who access social care and improve services.

The money is funding the County Council’s Technology Enabled Care Team and the Transformation Team who are working in partnership with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust to carry out a trial to help people with serious health conditions and dementia manage their medicines.

During the pilot, they will measure how effective next generation digital versions of traditional solutions such as standard dossett boxes and automated pill dispensers are in alerting patients to take their medication. The joint project between the NHS and Social Care service, aims to help people manage their symptoms better and therefore reducing the need for unnecessary hospital or GP admissions that could be the result of someone not taking their medication.

This is the latest in a number of schemes developed by the council to help people remain independent such as the hydration project, which is trialling the use of using water drinking aid devices and water bottles with the aim of boosting people’s drinking levels to prevent dehydration and related health conditions.

The County Council has also been working with adult social care teams to identify a small number of people with dementia, a visual impairment, memory problems or mobility issues willing to take part in the four week pilot using Amazon Dot devices. They will use the hands-free, voice-controlled device, Alexa, to set an alarm or reminder, write a shopping list, listen to the news and radio, ask general questions, use audio books and more.

The pilot will check in with the participants to evaluate their experience of using Alexa in their home and get feedback on any benefits they have gained from using the device and any further support they need.

Cllr Anna Bailey, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults Committee chairwoman, said: “We’re thrilled to have been awarded this funding for digital medicine management support. We’re investing heavily in transformative approaches including assistive technology as we know it can make a real difference to people’s lives, particularly in helping them to remain independent in their own home which is where they want to be.”

James Palmer, Programme Lead for the Social Care Programme at NHS Digital, said: “The successful projects span a wide range of areas, from assistive technologies to predictive analytics. This funding will give the local authorities a chance to identify and investigate a local problem before testing out a potential solution. They will be sharing their experiences from the pilot projects, adding to our collective knowledge of how digital can effectively be used to support the delivery of adult social care. There are some really exciting proposals this year and I am looking forward to seeing the outcomes.”

The successful councils are:

  • Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Bracknell Forest Council
  • South Tyneside Council
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • Nottingham City Council
  • London Borough of Havering
  • London Borough of Haringey
  • Shropshire Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Isle of Wight Council
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Sunderland City Council

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