Job Support Worker

Support Worker Complex Care – Northwood HA6

To care for a 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, she is dependent for all her care needs, and therefore the requirement is to provide assistance with personal hygiene. educational, social and leisure activities.

HOURS:

Working days: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Term time – approx. 39 weeks per year

Working hours: 16.00 – 22.00 (18 hours per week)

Potential for other shifts also during school holidays

Potential for Saturday and Sunday by arrangement

PAY: £14 per hour afternoons/evenings

PAY: £16 per hour Saturday and Sunday shifts

Main duties and responsibilities

  • Carrying out the afternoon/evening routine which includes preparing packed lunch, shower, follow the therapeutic programme, downtime comprising of watching TV or relaxing with her iPad, prepare for bed
  • Work with the client, professionals and family to undertake duties commensurate with the post and as requested by the client and family
  • Be aware of issues of safeguarding and alert parents to any concerns regarding the client’s safety and wellbeing
  • Participate in meetings called by the parents
  • As a professional member of the staff team, support colleagues where necessary
  • Provide a safe and happy environment

General

  • Ensure that all duties are carried out to a high standard and that the welfare of the client is paramount at all times
  • To undertake any other related duties as required from time to time

Person Specification

Essential requirements:

  • Female required – this is an exemption of the Equal Opportunities Act 2010
  • Enhanced DBS Certificate – applied for by employer if required
  • Able to drive an adapted vehicle although training will be provided to the right applicant
  • Full clean UK driver’s licence
  • The driver’s license must not have drink/driving endorsements
  • Good level of spoken English
  • Awareness of safeguarding and the rights of young people
  • Punctual, committed and dependable
  • A calm temperament, trustworthy, reliable with a good sense of humour, and a passion for working with children and young people
  • Have a pleasant, cheerful outlook
  • Satisfactory references
  • Right to work in the UK
  • Be willing not to smoke during your hours of duty

Desirable:

  • Health and Social Care First Aid Certificate
  • Flexibility to work occasional additional hours

School holidays and half terms: Shifts by agreement

Support Worker hours and rates of pay

Salary: £14.00-£16.00 per hour

Part-time hours: 18 per week

Reference ID: MAR022AP

Job Types: Part-time, Permanent

To find out more and to apply for this position visit: https://uk.indeed.com/job/support-worker-8bf14294b10a67eb

Closing date for applications: 10 June 2022

Embrace HR Aylesbury Right To Work

As part of its bid to clamp down on illegal workers, the government has made changes to the way in which migrants can prove their right to work in the UK, which came into force this month…

Right to Work

A reminder to employers that the changes in the way migrants can prove their right to work came into effect on 6 April 2022.

The ‘prevention of illegal working’ system is going to undergo considerable change. The Home Office’s intent to create an immigration system where visa holders, by and large, demonstrate their status via ‘digital’ immigration status – rather than physical documents – and the growth in home working, has necessitated significant changes to how employers carry out right to work checks.

There are two types of right to work checks: an online check and a manual check. The type of check that you are required to carry out as an employer depends on the status of the job applicant. The types of documents which are acceptable as evidence of right to work are contained within List A and List B, detailed in the Employers’ Right to Work Checklist.

  • List A has the documents that provide an ongoing right to work, for instance those provided by British nationals or those who have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
  • List B is split into two groups of documents which provide a temporary right to work:
    • List B Group 1 includes the documents providing temporary visa permission which must be checked before the start of employment and again before expiry.
    • List B Group 2 includes those individuals who cannot produce their original documents. For instance, they have an outstanding application or appeal with the Home Office.

Within the guidance, Annex F has been added to support employers seeking guidance on what documentation Ukrainian nationals will need to prove their right to work. More on this below.

The recent changes apply to any job applicants who hold either a Biometric Residence Card (BRC), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or Frontier Worker Permit (FWP).

The Home Office announced these changes at the end of last year, and this now means that anyone holding the documents mentioned is only able to evidence their right to work using the Home Office online service.

This also means that employers can no longer accept or check a physical BRP, BRC or FWP as valid proof of right to work. This applies even if it shows a later expiry date.

Please note that it is not necessary for you to retrospectively check the status of BRC or BRP holders who you employed up to and including 5 April 2022. For these members of staff, as long as the initial checks were undertaken in line with the guidance that applied at the time the check was made, employers will not be liable to any penalties.

Employment of Ukrainian nationals

In response to the evolving conflict in Ukraine, the Home Office has introduced two visa schemes to support Ukrainian nationals, and their family members, to come to the UK.

Those who are granted a visa under these schemes are able to work, rent a home, and access public services, such as medical treatment and education.

Both schemes are free and do not include salary or language requirements but do have certain conditions which will need to be met.

  • Ukraine Family Scheme – this scheme allows both immediate and extended family members of British Nationals and people already settled in the UK to come into the UK.
  • Homes for Ukraine Scheme – this second scheme enables Ukrainian Nationals to be sponsored by UK residents.

All Ukrainian nationals arriving under the above schemes should obtain a BRP and employers are urged to clarify the requirements, which differ subject to whether the individual has a valid Ukrainian Passport or not. Any prospective employee who is a Ukrainian national and not applied for permission to stay in the UK, will not have a right to work. This means you should not employ them until this has been regularised.

What are right to work checks?

As an employer you must check that any job applicants have lawful immigration status in the UK before entering into employment. If you do not carry out these checks, you could be liable for a civil penalty.

An online right to work check is required for all BRC, BRP and FWP holders from 6 April 2022, as well as anyone who only holds digital proof of their immigration status in the UK. To carry out these checks you need the applicant’s date of birth and their share code, which they will have obtained online.

Please note that applicants from the UK still need to submit their paper documents to an employer in the usual way.

You can download a full guide to employer’s right to work checks at GOV.UK: An employers  guide to  right to work checks.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Job Support Worker

Female* Day and Night Support Worker

Job role: Female* Support Worker – Permanent, part-time (20-30 hours per week)
Location: Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16
Pay: £13-£15 per hour – Day Shifts / £14-16 per hour – Waking Night Shifts

Shifts available: Flexibility to work shifts with a mix of afternoons, nights and seasonal cover is required. There are a variety of shifts available, any shift pattern will be considered.

  • 3 afternoons after school 15.30 to 20.30 (20.00 on Fridays), Saturdays 08.00 to 18.00 twice a month term time.
  • 3 nights a week including Friday & Saturday nights 20.00 to 08.00 and an extra night 20.30 to 08.30.
  • Seasonal cover i.e., school holidays. Hours to be mutually agreed.

Are you a Female* Support Worker?

  • Confident about working in client’s own home and sensitive to the needs and wishes of the parents
  • Happy to learn new things, (training will be given)
  • Patient and tolerant
  • Proactive with an encouraging approach
  • Responsible and able to work under own initiative
  • Cheerful, caring with a positive attitude
  • Reliable, trustworthy and a good communicator
  • Confident with moving and handling
  • Hold a UK drivers’ licence
  • Flexible – to cover other care staff shifts to ensure the smooth running of the care team
  • Non-smoker / vaper

Experience

Experience in caring for children/young people with cerebral palsy is an advantage; administration of medication, follow through on therapy, keep accurate records. Enthusiasm, patience, common sense and a willingness to learn are key aspects of the role. The ability to work alone is essential.

Our client

We are currently looking for a number of day and night Female* Support Workers who can be flexible in the availability of shifts worked. Our client is a young girl in her teens who has complex physical and learning disabilities. She lives with her mother, father and two younger siblings. She is non-verbal with sensory impairments, hearing impairment and uses cochlear implants. She has complex physical needs and is a wheelchair user.

Full support is needed to undertake all activities of daily living. She is fed via a gastrostomy and uses a combination of facial expressions, symbols and some eye pointing to communicate. She requires a high level of care both during the day and especially at night as our client frequently wakes and has an unpredictable sleep pattern. She uses CPAP to support her respiration at night and needs attention with regards to her gastrostomy and fluid intake.

Our client enjoys the company of happy, lively people with outgoing personalities. She enjoys playing with her siblings, has a fantastic sense of humour and loves joining in all activities integral to family life. Ongoing training and support will be given.

* The employer claims exemption under the Equality Act 2010

Satisfactory references and proof of eligibility to work in the UK will also be required. This position requires a disclosure request from the DBS. A conviction will not necessarily prevent you from being employed.

To find out more and to apply for this position visit: https://www.recruitmentgenius.com/jobseekers/job-details/female-day-and-night-support-worker-ref-00120305

Closing date for applications: 30 April 2022

Job Support Worker

Support Worker Complex Care – Northwood HA6

To care for a 13-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, she is dependent for all her care needs, and therefore the requirement is to provide assistance with personal hygiene. educational, social and leisure activities.

HOURS:

Working days: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Term time – approx. 39 weeks per year

Working hours: 16.00 – 20.00 (12 hours per week)

Potential for other shifts also during school holidays

Potential for Saturday and Sunday by arrangement

PAY: £14 per hour afternoons/evenings

PAY: £16 per hour Saturday and Sunday shifts

Main duties and responsibilities

  • Carrying out the afternoon/evening routine which includes preparing packed lunch, shower, follow the therapeutic programme, downtime comprising of watching TV or relaxing with her iPad, prepare for bed
  • Work with the client, professionals and family to undertake duties commensurate with the post and as requested by the client and family
  • Be aware of issues of safeguarding and alert parents to any concerns regarding the client’s safety and wellbeing
  • Participate in meetings called by the parents
  • As a professional member of the staff team, support colleagues where necessary
  • Provide a safe and happy environment

General

  • Ensure that all duties are carried out to a high standard and that the welfare of the client is paramount at all times
  • To undertake any other related duties as required from time to time

Person Specification

Essential requirements:

  • Female required – this is an exemption of the Equal Opportunities Act 2010
  • Enhanced DBS Certificate – applied for by employer if required
  • Able to drive an adapted vehicle although training will be provided to the right applicant
  • Full clean UK drivers licence
  • The drivers license must not have drink/driving endorsements
  • Good level of spoken English
  • Awareness of safeguarding and the rights of young people
  • Punctual, committed and dependable
  • A calm temperament, trustworthy, reliable with a good sense of humour, and a passion for working with children and young people
  • Have a pleasant, cheerful outlook
  • Satisfactory references
  • Right to work in the UK
  • Be willing not to smoke during your hours of duty

Desirable:

  • Health and Social Care First Aid Certificate
  • Flexibility to work occasional additional hours

School holidays and half terms: Shifts by agreement

Support Worker hours and rates of pay

Salary: £14.00-£16.00 per hour

Part-time hours: 12 per week

Reference ID: MAR022AP

Job Types: Part-time, Permanent

To find out more and to apply for this position visit: https://uk.indeed.com/job/support-worker-b5dfe4a18b55ac0c

Closing date for applications: 30 April 2022

Embrace HR Aylesbury staff payment changes

As 1 April gets closer, make sure you are up to date with the changes in minimum wage rates and other statutory payments for the tax year 2022/2023…

It is not long until April, and of course for anyone involved in HR or employing people, knowing the annual change in rates for the National Living Wage and other statutory payments is vital. Below we outline what you need to know:

National Living Wage

From 1 April 2022, the National Living Wage (NLW) will increase from £8.91 per hour to £9.50. This is more than twice the 3.1% cost of living and means that anyone aged 23 or over should receive a pay rise of 6.6%.

For younger workers the rates are different but they will still see a pay rise. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is set to increase from £8.36 an hour to £9.18 an hour for workers aged 21 and 22.

The rate rises from £6.56 to £6.83 for anyone aged 18 to 20, while under 18s will see their Minimum Wage increase from £4.62 to £4.81.

The apprentice rate rises from £4.30 to £4.81.

The above is demonstrated here in a tabular format from Gov.uk:

GOV.UK NLW and NMW rates 2022-23

National Insurance Contributions

From 6 April 2022, there will be a 1.25% increase in National Insurance Contributions. This applies to all working adults in the UK and is a rate that will also be matched by employers.

This increase will be used to help fund the NHS, health and social care.

Be aware that from April 2023, this 1.25% will need to be itemised separately on payslips under ‘Health and Social Care Levy’.

Statutory Pay for Parents 

From 3 April 2022, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) after the standard six weeks of 90% of pay is £156.66 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Note the same rate also applies to Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Job Support Worker

Support Worker – West Chiltington, West Sussex

Part-time available: a) On-call night shifts (including weekend)

and b) shifts during school holidays

(Exemption is claimed under the Equality Act 2010 Part 1 Schedule 9)

We have an exciting opportunity to recruit a permanent support worker to join our small established team. The ideal candidates will have a good sense of humour, an excellent work ethic, and the ability to maximise someone’s potential and enhance their quality of life within their home environment.

On-call Night Shifts (permanent contract)

Shifts: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 9:30 pm to 8:30 am.

Staff are required to get our client ready for bed, soothe him to sleep and to check on him during the night as required and get him ready for school in the morning.

School Holiday shifts (permanent contracts)

We are seeking a support worker to cover school holidays. The shifts available are from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm two or three days a week during school holidays. Also, to accompany our client and his family on holiday.

The Client

Our client is a male child aged 10 years who has cerebral palsy and learning difficulties. He is tube fed and is a wheelchair user. He is a loving, sweet and cheeky chap and a pleasure to work with. His care depends on others to support him in a holistic approach ranging from personal care, feeding and toileting to promoting his quality of life within the house and in the community. He lives as full, active and high quality a life as possible, so social and recreational activities are important in his care, together with learning his communication strategies due to him being non-verbal.

Client’s Hobbies & Interests

Our client loves active engagement and interaction; he enjoys being outside on his swing, slide and trike and going for walks in his all-terrain buggy. He loves his hydrotherapy sessions and has his own hydrotherapy pool. He enjoys stories, music, board games, arts and crafts, relaxing massages and watching his favourite TV programmes.

The Roles

You will have experience of working with someone with a learning and a physical disability, and you will commit to provide a high standard of therapeutic support in a calm, caring and professional manner.

Night shifts:

You will get our client ready for bed and settle him to sleep. You can go to bed but need to be alert to him waking during the night via a CCTV monitor. He can have settled nights but is often disturbed a couple of times and can take time to settle back down. He will need repositioning to help him get back to sleep. In the morning you’ll get him ready for school.

You will need to have the flexibility to accompany the client and his family on holiday.

School holidays: Tasks include undertaking a range of activities in the home and supporting our client to to maximise his independence in line with his therapy programme. You will work with other health care professionals that include a Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist to participate in all of these activities actively. You will also participate in hydrotherapy with our client to promote his physical health and enhance his quality of life as much as possible.

There is the expectation that you will work towards a client-centred approach to improve and promote our client’s quality of life by following the agreed care plans.

You will possess good communication skills, empathy, flexibility and enthusiasm, with the ability to use your initiative and creativity. You will be confident, reliable and caring. Undertaking domestic tasks, such as cleaning and tidying at the end of the shift, is vital.

You will need to have the flexibility to accompany our client and his family on holiday.

Essential

  • You must hold a full, clean driving licence and be an experienced driver
  • You must have the skills and experience gained from working with people with disabilities
  • It would be best if you had a calm, warm and friendly disposition with a good sense of humour
  • Although regular shifts will be agreed, the employer holds the right to change shifts at any time to suit our client’s needs; therefore flexibility is vital

Location: The roles are based at the family’s home in West Chiltington, West Sussex.

Support Worker hours and rates of pay

Night rate – Sunday – Tuesday – £120 in total

Day rate – £14.00ph in week and £16.00ph at weekends

Reference ID: ThoH

Job Types: Part-time, Permanent

Salary: £14.00-£16.00 per hour

To find out more and to apply for this position visit: https://uk.indeed.com/job/support-worker-e28f0a929682bb22

Closing date for applications: 19 March 2022

Job Support Worker

Team Leader – Support Workers – West Chiltington, West Sussex

Part-time available: a) On-call night shifts (including weekend)

and b) shifts during school holidays

(Exemption is claimed under the Equality Act 2010 Part 1 Schedule 9) We have an exciting opportunity to recruit a permanent Team Leader to join our small established team. The ideal candidates will have a good sense of humour, an excellent work ethic, and the ability to maximise someone’s potential and enhance their quality of life within their home environment.

On-call Night Shifts (permanent contract)

Shifts: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 9:30 pm to 8:30 am.

Staff are required to get our client ready for bed, soothe him to sleep and to check on him during the night as required and get him ready for school in the morning.

School Holiday shifts (permanent contracts)

We are seeking a support worker to cover school holidays. The shifts available are from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm two or three days a week during school holidays. Also, to accompany our client and his family on holiday.

The Client

To work with a ten-year-old boy with quadraplegic Cerebral Palsy. He is a wheelchair user and is non-verbal with severe developmental delay. The care will involve manual handling, providing assistance with all levels of personal  care, feeding via a gastrostomy and basic physiotherapy led exercises and positioning. He enjoys watching programmes on his iPad, music, arts and crafts and spending time in his therapy/sensory room. He loves hydrotherapy and has his own pool at home. He also likes walks in the countryside.

Client’s Hobbies & Interests

Our client loves active engagement and interaction; he enjoys being outside on his swing, slide and trike and going for walks in his all-terrain buggy. He loves his hydrotherapy sessions and has his own hydrotherapy pool. He enjoys stories, music, board games, arts and crafts, relaxing massages and watching his favourite TV programmes.

The Roles

The Team Leader’s duties will include co-ordinating the team by organising the rota, supervising staff monitoring the quality of care provided and liaising with the multidisciplinary team. The Team Leader will provide some care for our client within the family home and during trips out into the community. Our client attends a special school during term time and support is at night, after school in term time when he is at home, during school holidays and at weekends. He is expected to have two support workers or the support of a parent with one support worker when in the community.

There is the expectation that you will work towards a client-centred approach to improve and promote our client’s quality of life by following the agreed care plans.

You will possess good communication skills, empathy, flexibility and enthusiasm, with the ability to use your initiative and creativity. You will be confident, reliable and caring. Undertaking domestic tasks, such as cleaning and tidying at the end of the shift, is vital.

You will need to have the flexibility to accompany our client and his family on holiday.

Job Purpose

  • To manage the support team, organising rotas, supervision and monitoring performance, ensuring that the highest quality of care is provided. Identifying areas for training.
  • Liaising with the parents and multidisciplinary team and facilitating good communication across the teams.
  • To provide support and care for our client in partnership with his family. Specific tasks include: feeding via gastrostomy, providing assistance with all levels of personal care including changing continence pads, skin care and mouth care.
  • To support our client with his communication needs and methods that he uses.
  • Ensuring all staff undertake tasks and activities in line with the care plan and the appropriate process and procedure.
  • To support our client in maximising his independence in all activities of daily living.
  • To monitor the client’s health and report and changes in condition to the parents and case manager.

Essential

  • You must hold a full, clean driving licence and be an experienced driver
  • You must have the skills and experience gained from working with people with disabilities
  • It would be best if you had a calm, warm and friendly disposition with a good sense of humour
  • Although regular shifts will be agreed, the employer holds the right to change shifts at any time to suit our client’s needs; therefore flexibility is vital

Location: The roles are based at the family’s home in West Chiltington, West Sussex.

Support Worker hours and rates of pay

Night rate – £120.50 Sunday, Monday & Tuesday

Day rate – £15.00ph in week and £17.00ph at weekends

Reference ID: ThoH TL

Job Types: Part-time, Permanent

Salary: £15.00-£17.00 per hour

To find out more and to apply for this position visit: https://uk.indeed.com/job/team-leader-support-worker-707302af90557761

Closing date for applications: 19 March 2022

Embrace HR Aylesbury Time to Hire

Tracking how long it takes to hire new employees in the care sector can help you focus on where you can improve efficiency in your business processes…

Focusing on your recruitment metrics can really help you to streamline your processes and, in the long run to save time and money. We explain why, and how you can improve your ‘time to hire’.

According to a white paper by The Access Group [The Access Group: The evolving world of candidate screening and compliance] around 11% of workers change jobs in the UK – to put that figure into perspective this equates to around 3.5 million people. Furthermore, employers and recruitment services undertook a massive 6 million DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks in 2019/2020. That is a lot of processing!

The time to hire equation

There are three parts to the ‘time to hire’ equation. The first is the length of time it takes to actually identify the right person for your vacancy. The second is how long it takes for the new person to be hired – which includes how long it takes to move them from application to phone interview, from phone interview to in-person interview and so on.

Finally, you must look at anything that is delaying the recruitment process – such as the ratio of good and poor applications you receive. To improve this ratio you may wish to look at where you are advertising, as a more targeted approach may reap dividends, and consider introducing an incentive scheme for existing staff to propose possible candidates.

You may ask why it matters so much:

  1. If you are slow to hire, you could lose your candidate to another organisation – and then have to start the whole recruitment process all over again, costing more time and money.
  2. The care sector, along with many others, is struggling to find care staff to fit with service users’ needs. It’s important to review pay scales so that they are competitive, not only in the sector, but with industries such as retail.
  3. Another thing to consider is that the care industry has more transient or casual employees at the lower end of the pay scale. When searching for jobs, they are likely to use their mobiles, so make it easy for them to apply. After all, every day they are not working is a day they are not earning.
  4. If you have a member of staff away for too long, work may not be completed to the standard you require, if at all.

Days until hiring

According to Glassdoor [Glassdoor: How Long It Takes to Go Through the Interview Process & Find a Job 04/05/2020], it can take an average of 27.3 days to take a candidate through the hiring process. It varies by sector as the report highlights – we estimate the care sector is somewhere between the 16 days in retail and the 10 days for hospitality candidates.

Now that so much of the hiring process can be done online and through virtual interviews, it is possible that your candidate has interviewed at a number of other rival organisations.

To avoid losing your ideal candidate to another organisation, it is vital to keep your process as short as possible. So how can you do that?

First, ensure that any screening for eligibility to work can be done speedily and simply. If your candidates have multiple offers, they are likely to abandon any that are complicated and take up a lot of time. You should be able to conduct much of the screening process online and do remember it should be mobile friendly – as we have said, many of your candidates may only have access online via a smartphone or tablet.

Identifying delays

When you collect together all of the data, you will be able to identify if there are any hold-ups or delays that can be fixed easily. For example, if there is a gap between getting candidates’ details and your reply, you will need to address why that hold-up is occurring. If screening takes a long time, then you need to think about whether that process could be automated.

If your hiring process appears to be long and drawn out, take the time to sketch it out – even if it is only on a piece of paper. See who does what and when, and make sure everyone is clear about their place in the timeline.

Another very obvious thing to do is to keep a list of prospective candidates – if they have previously been screened and interviewed but were not chosen for the position. There is no reason why you cannot approach them if a similar vacancy arises – by doing that you can skip out several parts of the hiring process. Of course, consideration should be given to the data protection laws in this country – how long you can retain data, and what it should be used for. Ask for the applicants’ permission to retain their details on file for future positions and to introduce them to other prospective service users.

Finally, consider bringing in an independent HR consultant to streamline your sourcing and hiring process for you. It will have a cost attached, but by speeding up your process, and freeing up your time, it could save you both time and money.

Further reading

BABICM (the British Association of Brain Injury and Complex Case Management) recently carried out its own survey regarding recruitment and retention of support work staff. View the initial summary [BABICM:Perfect Storm Survey results 03/02/2022].

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

If you would like to receive our newsletter, please sign up here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.

Embrace HR Aylesbury Assistive Technology

Advances in assistive technology are improving the quality of life for people with complex brain injury. Young people, children and babies in particular are benefiting from this technological evolution…

The evolution of technology continues exponentially. A few years ago, none of us would have imagined that we would be able to talk to a smart speaker in our home, get it to order shopping, find recipes, play games and so on. Or that a doorbell would enable us to talk to (and see!) visitors to our home when we are miles away. These developments are making everyday life easier for us all.

But it is in the area of assistive technology where advancements are making a huge difference to the quality of life of people with complex brain injury – especially for children and young people.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology is fundamentally any kind of technology or equipment that has been either adapted or specially designed to improve how a disabled person functions in their daily lives. In fact, those smart speakers we mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg – the latest Amazon Echo has recently been advertised featuring people with disabilities, because the voice control can be of great benefit to those who have limited/no use of their limbs.

And why is this technology particularly beneficial to babies, children and young people with complex brain injury? They will get the best start in life if they can develop and engage with their education and with the people around them – and assistive technology can help with that. The sooner they start, the less their disadvantage will be. Assistive technology can help them communicate with others, it can offer them independence, a different way to learn – and of course can also be used for entertainment, helping them to enjoy the things that other children expect to do as a matter of course.

Aids for Communication

Aids for communication can include things as simple as charts and picture books – but technology offers the use of electronic communication equipment that can be operated using a switch or joystick, or even by moving the eyes. The ability to use voice output technology can enable people to take part in conversations with those around them and stop them feeling isolated.

Special software and other adaptations can allow children with complex brain injury to use PCs, games consoles, tablets and mobile phones – encouraging independence as they can use these devices themselves.

For those who struggle with reading, e-books can come as audio files, and PCs, smartphones and tablets can be equipped with text-to-speech software that can read aloud anything on the screen. Audio recorders are useful for children who find it hard to take notes in a class.

For anyone with attention issues, hearing issues, or language processing problems, frequency modulation (FM) systems help to cut back background noise in the classroom and amplify the teacher’s words, to aid concentration.

It can be beneficial for the carers of these children and young people, to be trained in using the technology, and how to update it, so that access to the technology is not interrupted.

Assistive Tech in Action

Embrace HR MD, Cecily Lalloo, saw assistive technology in action when she attended a BABICM webinar by Mike Thrussell of Access Technology. Access Technology use assistive technology to help people with disabilities do what they want to do. Here’s what she had to say after the webinar:

“Mike first introduced us to Al, a 17-year old who is non-verbal and has physical disabilities. Al took over the presentation and showed us how he is studying maths and the sciences using off-the-shelf software with his iPad and computers but with access to his devices in a way that is easier for him to use.

“He is also a gamer and he is so adept and innovative, that he has been contacting Mike, with suggestions and ideas to further make use of technology to help him, and possibly others. He has an adapted joystick to play his games on his Xbox.

“Mike has been working with Al for many years and says that his parents are very supportive so that Al can live a fulfilling life and do things that any 17-year-old would like to do. Al is now an Ambassador for Mike’s company and asked Mike if he could do his work placement with him.

“It was lovely watching him, an intelligent and proud young man, achieve what he set his mind to do. I smiled as he corrected his Mum … ‘it’s an Xbox, Mum,’ he said when she mentioned his Playstation.

“Next up was Kit, who is 7 years old. His parents have been working with Mike since their son was 4 years old.  Mike explained that he had to find a way to make Kit aware of ’cause and effect’. Through much research, he discovered that Kit loved the feeling of being ‘jiggled’. So they sited pads on either side of his head on his wheelchair, showed him that when his head hit the pads, it activated his computer. He took a long and hard look at what was on the screen and this activated his wheelchair to jiggle. This made Kit laugh as he enjoyed the sensation.

“But the head movements weren’t easy for him and through further research Mike set up a pad close to his knee. This enabled him to move his knee to hit the pad, and the same action would present the screen for him to look at to activate the jiggling movement of his chair. Once Kit learnt about cause and effect, Mike went on to set up cartoons that would jiggle and Kit learnt to activate them, which gave him enormous pleasure.

“Over the years they have progressed, and Kit uses his knee pad to switch lights on and off in the home. The lights are controlled by remote, so Kit uses the switches that the rest of the family use. This means he is included despite his disabilities. Using Bluetooth, he also helps his Mum with the cleaning as he instructs ‘Alexa’ to vacuum.”

Mike’s ethos is to enable people with disabilities such as Al and Kit to live the best life they can, making use of technology and what is around us to help them do what they want to do. In a few years Mike says things will have changed dramatically. And we need to keep up.

If you would like to discuss this subject further, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 761288 or contact us here.

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Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited provide a specialised HR service to the care sector, from recruitment through to exit.