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Fast and reliable community 5G connectivity for Liverpool social care

Fast and reliable community 5G connectivity for Liverpool social care

Access to a fast and reliable internet connection is still a real challenge for many social care providers. This digital divide means that some providers don’t have the opportunity to embrace technology that can improve and support their work.

An innovative partnership project has brought a fast 5G connection free of charge to digitally disadvantaged areas of Liverpool.

The Liverpool 5G Create project is a unique and pioneering consortium. Made up of public sector health and social care suppliers, the NHS, university researchers, and technology companies – it’s created the largest independent 5G health and social care network in the UK.

Here we speak to Rosemary Kay, Director of Liverpool’s eHealth Cluster, which enables social care providers in the city to adopt new technologies that are beneficial to their service users.

 

What’s the problem you were trying to address?

We’re all living longer which means that we’re living with age-related illnesses that require health and social care support, driving up demand. However, adult social care spending has been reduced significantly in recent years.

We need to find affordable technologies that help us continue providing excellent care that allows people to live independently at home if they can.

One of the biggest challenges in Liverpool is that communities lack the reliable and affordable internet required to support new and emerging social care technologies. That’s why we came together as partners to accelerate the pace and scale of innovation.

 

Tell us more about the Liverpool 5G project

We have developed what is essentially a community 5G network. It’s a super-fast and reliable wireless internet connection for people taking part in the project in Kensington, Liverpool, and using the network to support life changing telecare technologies. We used the latest innovative technology to connect to the council-owned fibre network that is already used for the city’s CCTV network.

The idea is that it’s free for those that need it, including social care providers in the area. We don’t charge for using data.

We can also put Wi-Fi units into people’s homes and configure it straight to our free network. This supports home care and those working in domiciliary services.

 

How are you working in social care?

The original project, called Stop and Go, was all about the adoption of technology in domiciliary care. We supported the council, care providers and technology suppliers to introduce the PASS system using smart phones to monitor care plans and visits. Providers are alerted to any discrepancies in the plan by ‘red flag’ alerts.

We also introduced Caring Cloud, a system that allows monitoring in homes, so people receive relevant care when needed instead of regimented care regardless of need.

These projects highlighted the need for affordable, reliable connectivity. So, we delivered one of the first programmes to install a private, independent 5G network, giving coverage across the Kensington area of the city and enabling care providers and families to take advantage of the network. We trialled a number of health and care related services as part of this project.

One service, Paman, allows people to take their medicine safely at home, via a video link to a pharmacist. Each person receives a personal assessment to audit the medicines they have in their home and the doses they are taking. The 5G supported Medihub connects to the pharmacy assistant at the same time each day, which gives the service user some independence as they don’t have to wait in a care provider to visit. Taking the medicine at the same time each day can also make it more effective.

 

You’ve recently been awarded a further grant to help health and social care innovation?

Yes, the team has been awarded an extra £4.3m by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of its 5G Testbed and Trials Programme.

COVID-19 has meant we all need to look at new ways of providing health and social care remotely to the most vulnerable. This grant will allow us to increase the area covered, do some upgrades and trial a range of new technology in health and social care to make people’s lives better.

 

What technology will you be testing?

The 5G technology will be used to support a medical grade device to manage and monitor health conditions remotely. We’re also trialling an app that teaches anxiety reduction techniques, a remote GP triaging service, wound care and management, and sensor technology.

 

What are your hopes for this project?

Through this project we want to be able to deliver free and fast connectivity for public services to everyone who needs it in Liverpool. We want to remove the barriers caused by lack of affordable connectivity and help drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of our community.

 

 

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