Assistive technology specialist Smartbox and CareTech, one of the UK’s leading Adult’s Services providers, are collaborating on a major new project named ‘100 Voices’. The initiative will explore the relationship between access to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and the positive outcomes for adults with communication difficulties in CareTech services across the UK.
CareTech are one of the UK’s leading providers of specialist Adult services that include services provided by Selwyn and Oakleaf. At the heart of the project are 100 people who are supported in CareTech settings. Fifty of these are Adults in residential services. They have all been identified as people who have never used high tech communication aids before but could potentially benefit from access to this technology.
Everyone taking part in the project will receive a Smartbox communication device alongside training and support to help them achieve their individual goals. These will range from having a voice for what may be the first time to improving their connections with the staff who support them, their family and friends and ultimately achieving greater independence. Over the next 12 months the 100 Voices project team will measure the participants’ progress, gaining a deeper understanding of the potential AAC brings together with the challenges and benefits they experience from using their devices.
“Through the 100 Voices project, we hope to raise awareness and understanding of what assistive technology can do for people with communication difficulties and associated complex needs in care and special education settings. The profile and use of AAC remains relatively low in the UK at present, when you consider the huge difference communication makes to everyone’s lives, from accurately and independently expressing needs or enjoying face-to-face connections, to accessing ever important digital communication channels. Our lives revolve around communication and it is critical for participation and independence in our society. We also see how self-advocacy supports person centred planning and through this project we can explore what impact the availability of AAC has on people’s care and education outcomes.” said Hannah Church, Director of Customer Experience, Smartbox Assistive Technology
“100 Voices is one of many digital innovation projects we are leading at CareTech and we will be adopting a whole service approach in one of our adult residential and day centres to fully understand how AAC can complement the care we provide to the people we support. AAC is a technology that we believe will bring huge potential for adults in many of our services. With Smartbox now becoming part of the CareTech group of companies we have the opportunity to blend care with technology and offer new possibilities towards greater independence for those in our care. We cannot underestimate the world of possibility this collaboration will open up for simple day-to-day conversation.” said John Ivers, Group COO, CareTech.
The 100 Voices project launched in early 2021 and will conclude in Spring 2022. This is the first joint initiative for Smartbox and CareTech, and the research will be led by an advisory panel including independent Speech and Language Therapists. As the project progresses the team will share case studies and findings as data and insight becomes available. The participants receiving devices will be supported by Smartbox and the CareTech team throughout their journey with AAC, during the project and beyond.
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