Essex County Council (ECC) and global innovation and transformation consultancy PA Consulting (PA) announce that they are working together to explore the potential of a new service using wearable technology – like socks and slippers – to help residents at risk of falls. ECC and PA aim to use this innovative technology for the first time in the UK with residents in Essex.
The annual cost of falls in Essex is forecast to be over £46m in 2019, with almost a third of the population of Essex ‘at-risk’ of falling. Falls are often a preventable health issue and the partnership between ECC and PA will explore how technology can help to prevent them.
The project, funded by the Local Government Association (LGA) through its Social Care digital innovation programme, will explore how wearables such as smart socks and slippers can collect real-time data on the movements and vital signs of a wearer’s lower limbs – their gait, strength and balance. This would then alert the wearer or a health or care professional to warning signs that a fall is imminent. Preventative action could then be taken to avoid the fall, such as taking some rest or drinking some water.
Throughout the first discovery phase, ECC and PA will speak to organisations across the health and social care system in Essex. This will include professional and informal carers, health and care practitioners with specialist falls expertise, fallers and service delivery providers. Working with these stakeholders will help ECC and PA to establish the viability of the solution from a user, technical and service perspective. Once this is complete, the partnership’s aim is to give smart socks or slippers to Essex residents at risk of falls.
Robert Turnbull, local government and care technology expert at PA Consulting, says: “It’s tremendously exciting to be working in partnership with ECC. The innovation that we are exploring has the potential to be truly lifechanging.
“PA has unmatched experience in bringing ingenuity to life in the care sector. We have a proven track record of innovative uses of technology to improve the lives of vulnerable adults, building a positive human future. We’re excited to be working with ECC on this project. ECC and PA share a passion for care technology and its ability to make a real difference to vulnerable people and their carers.”
John Spence, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Essex County Council, says: “The impact of falls on individuals and their families can be devastating and can severely impact both their quality and length of life. Reducing falls and fractures is important for maintaining health, wellbeing and independence among older people and their carers.”