Providing help for people with their health and wellbeing via Amazon Echo Show – for frail and self-isolating patients in Staffordshire

So, we’re trying to introduce and ultimately normalise the use of digital technology using Alexa Echo Show for frail & self-isolating patients in their homes. That should hopefully improve their independence by empowering them to self-care and take more responsibility for their own health & wellbeing.

Our recent publications in GP Online (https://www.gponline.com/digital-assistants-help-patients-manage-health-wellbeing/article/1685128 and the British Journal of General Practice (https://bjgp.org/content/bjgp/70/695/294.full.pdf) have relayed how useful personal digital assistants are to people who’d previously avoided technology.  How in COVID-times, they have substantively reduced people’s social isolation with them being able to participate in video calls with their family members and friends as well as accessing apps to help with their relaxation or doing exercises and receiving medication reminders. Some have connected their Alexa devices with smart home plugs and are now able to turn on the lights or view who is at their door by just using their voice.

So how are we getting on giving out these Alexa devices to local people who need them? Well as at today we’ve given out around 120 of the 200 Echo Shows in the last 2-3 months that we’ve bought in from NHS funds for this purpose. This builds on our trial of 80 or so similar devices shared with patients with diabetes (in Burton and Northern Staffordshire) and mental health problems (given to patients registered on the local IAPT service) and frail patients- customers of the local Home Instead care service.

It’s great to see so much interest and have continuing help in identifying the right patient recipients with help from social prescribing leads connected with local general practices (part of the Primary Care Networks [PCNs]), social care workers, community groups such as North Staffs Multiple Sclerosis society, Christ Church in Tunstall as part of their Place of Welcome programme and a local school for children with special educational needs.

Watch this space for future news on how our continuing push on helping people to look after themselves better & invest in their happiness & wellbeing works out!

Ruth

Dr Ruth Chambers