Above: presenting at ITAC in May – Inventor, academic, evangelist, Dr Kevin Doughty is here to talk about the telehealth and assistive technology imperative

Scroll to end of article for details of tour dates and locations

By Keryn Curtis

One of the world’s leading experts in the field of assistive and enabling technologies and tele-healthcare is making a return visit to Australia next month to address a conference and workshop series to build greater knowledge and expertise among aged, disability and community care services in Australia.

Delegates at this year’s ITAC conference in Melbourne at the beginning of May were in furious agreement that the standout presentation of the event was the keynote delivered by Dr Kevin Doughty.

Co-director of the Centre for Usable Home Technology (CUHTec), a joint project of the University of York & Newcastle University in the UK, Dr Doughty has been involved in the design, evaluation and market assessment of electronic assistive technologies, telecare, telehealth and medical informatics systems for over 20 years.

Working as a researcher at Bangor University in Wales, Dr Doughty began to see huge potential health and social benefits in technology that could help elderly people to stay independent and well at home and importantly, avoid having to move to care homes.  

He developed and through a spin-out company, Technology in Healthcare, licensed a range of devices including special types of sensors, alarms and monitors capable of supporting and monitoring the health and safety of people living at home. Those products and licenses were eventually bought by the global telehealthcare company, Tunstall in 2001.

These days at CUHTec, Dr Doughty oversees interdisciplinary research and provides consultancy and training to ensure that new technologies being commissioned, developed and implemented meet what people actually want from technology in their homes.  

“The universities provide funding for this because it means that inventors and technologists can bring in their ideas and prototypes and get them pulled to pieces by our experts,” Dr Doughty told Australian Ageing Agenda in an interview after his ITAC presentation.   

“Inventors get to pitch their ideas. If you are a local authority or service provider you can come and present your challenges and needs and can test new products and provide feedback.  It’s a winner for all,” he said.  

Through an organisation called T-cubed, which Dr Doughty chairs, they provide a clever independent resource called the Telecare Equipment Prescription Guide or Telecare EPG.

It is an online resource tool for telecare professionals, providing access to independent and impartial expert-validated guidance for purchasing and implementing telecare and related technologies. 

Dr Doughty refers to the tool as “the telecare version of Trip Advisor” and like that service, there is a huge directory of different products on the market, including their features and specifications as well as evaluations and advice by diverse experts and users, downloadable resources, training support and a help desk.

A message  for Australia

The central message from Dr Doughty’s presentation at ITAC was that telecare and telehealth can play a huge role in the health and social care systems to better achieve what he says has always been and remains the goal of healthcare, which is to keep people well.

The evidence is clear, he told delegates, and has already been well demonstrated across a large body of sound research.  For this reason, he said the UK and Europe were well beyond the phase of conducting pilots and were already a long way down the track in implementing telecare systems as part of the broad picture for health and care services. 

“It will all be electronic and intelligent in the end,” he said, saying telehealth was a key element in the continuum of care and health.  

“Social care and health care are on the same spectrum and continuum and we need to find the right starting point on the continuum for this technology.

“The starting point needs to be to change the choice.  It used to be a choice between nothing or a care home; then it was a care home or domicilary care.

“Now it’s domiciliary care or telecare or a combination of both but we need to start looking at telecare before we start to look at domiciliary care,” he said. 

On the kind of broadband required to support an optimally functioning telehealth system Dr Doughty said the need was for, “as much bandwidth as possible.”

“If I was advising the government I would say that healthcare will always demand as much capacity has you have so don’t try to compromise – go for the maximum that the available technology can provide.” 

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FACT FILE:

Dr Kevin Doughty, whose visit is being hosted by Community Resourcing Worldwide (CRW), will be presenting at a range of workshops and conference events in the last half of October.  See below, or click here for details of all tour events.

  • 21 October – Sydney Workshop with BenSoc

Workshop focusing on quality management of people with dementia and the role of assistive and enabling technologies. This workshop will demonstrate the true costs and potential savings to be made through deploying various technologies:

Click here for information and registration details for the Sydney workshop with Benevolent Society – 21 October 

  • COTA Workshops – Dr Doughty discusses assistive and enabling technologies with consumers
    22 October  – Sydney/Canberra
    23 October – Melbourne 
    30 October  – Brisbane
     

These forums will provide older people with an opportunity to hear firsthand about consumer directed assistive and enabling technology, learning to recognise the significance of complete assessment of the service users, their home environment and their support network.  It will also deal with different service delivery models relevant to different contexts, matching individuals to specialist items of equipment, continuous assessment, quality of life issues and value for money.   
For details, email: 
contact@communityresourcingworldwide.com.au

  • 31 October  – Brisbane

Conference event: ‘Community Care in the Digital Age- Assistive and Enabling Innovations’

A highlight of the tour is a keynote address at a one day conference for community care providers in Brisbane on Thursday 31 October, at Brisbane Technology Park at Mt Gravatt in Brisbane, addressing ‘Community Care in the Digital Age- Assistive and Enabling Innovations’. 

The event addresses consumer directed care and engagement; international innovations;  the National Disability Insurance Scheme; opportunities for assistive and enabling technologies; standards and credentialing; as well as legal considerations; and will provide delegates with the opportunity to engage with leading international & national experts.

Click here for information and registration for the one day conference in Brisbane on 31 October

# There are also two UK study tours being offered in November and December.  For details email: contact@communityresourcingworldwide.com.au

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