Challenge 2: How can we help people with long-term illnesses access technologies

Challenge Description 

Our research has shown that in many cases, citizens with long-term health conditions (such as dementia or learning disabilities) can benefit from using particular types of commodity technologies by enabling self-management of their conditions and improving quality of life. How can we help people with long-term illnesses access additional technologies (over and above those provided through NHS care) that can enhance their care pathways?

For some time, we have been exploring the impact on people living with dementia using digital technologies to remain at home and supporting them to adopt digital solutions in harmony with daily living routines. We have growing evidence that these types of supports have great impact on families. More information can be found at our website ‘Dementia Circle’ https://www.dementiacircle.org/ 

Apply via Public Contracts Scotland

Launch Date: Monday 15th July

Closing Date: Monday 12th August

6>3 Interviews: 27th August 

3>1 Interviews: 9th October 

Exploration Stage Dates: 17th September - 4th October

Accelerator Stage Dates:  4th November - 21st February

Currently, however, citizens and staff do not have a means of assessing and understanding the technology requirements (if any) of particular people and building this into their care pathways at an early stage after the point of diagnosis. Moreover, the uptake of Self Directed Service (SDS) budgets, which can help families cover the cost of these technologies, is low. 

We know that there are limited resources to support our social care workforce, and so there is a dissonance between families looking to implement innovative supports and the resources of the workforce able to help these families negotiate these digital support models. Families living with long term health conditions could often benefit from the adoption of readily available commodity technologies which would allow them greater choice and control in their lives, however the stresses of living with their condition mean that they are often don’t have the time, or ability to research and make a good decision about what might be of benefit and can waste resources purchasing the wrong things. Services delivering support such as telecare are stretched to their limits, and acknowledge that they are only able to deal with the most urgent enquiries meaning that those who might be able to self-manage with a bit of support, are excluded from accessing it until they get to the point of crisis. This therefore creates a self-perpetuating circle where services are constantly firefighting and not able to move towards their desired preventative and proactive model.

The Digital Health and Care Strategy places emphasis on the importance of self management and access to technologies such as IoT devices which can improve the quality of services and support to citizens by providing a more complete picture of their lives to decisions makers.

What outcomes does the Challenge Sponsor want to achieve?

Overall, we want to see a scalable tool, which will be called “ADAM” (About Digital and Me) that will enable individuals/ families/ staff to assess potential technology requirements suited to their care pathways, recommend particular types of product (i.e. not recommending specific brands), provide trustworthy and easy to comprehend information, facilitate easy and accessible routes to procuring these solutions, for example, through Self Directed Service (SDS) budgets. Alzheimer Scotland has recently been leading on a Test of Change, and has worked with partners to co-produce a model for a digital assessment which would support access. A solution will need to take into account this research and its findings. 

Specific outcomes include: 

  • Personalising digital supports for Scottish Citizens with long-term conditions. 
  • Early adoption/ point of diagnosis adoption of digital with trusted resources and support available.
  • Existence qualitative evidence/ crisis points.
  • Increased awareness and uptake of SDS budgets (which can be used to help citizens purchase commodity technologies that can help them self-manage their conditions and improve their quality of life).

Who are the end users of the solution likely to be?

  • Citizens living with a long term health condition
  • Social Care Workforce
  • Primary Care Workforce
  • Allied Health Professionals

Has the Challenge Sponsor previously attempted to procure a solution for this challenge or identified existing solutions in the marketplace? If yes, why were these solutions not fit for purpose? 

Research was undertaken as part of the Test of Change programme, however nothing currently exists which takes into account commodity technologies.

Are there any particular interdependencies, blockers or conflicts to the implementation of a solution which the respondents will need to be aware of?

Test of Change has identified challenges in the sharing of data between citizens and their support agencies, between differing agencies, and the use of technology where data is stored in non GDPR compliant countries.  Any digital tool would have to build in privacy by design and allow granular sharing permissions.

Are there any particular technologies or features that the Challenge Sponsor would like to either explore or avoid when developing a solution?

We are keen to explore Voice as a means of interacting with the tool since this had proven to be desirable in our workshops with partners engaging with Test of Change. We would like to explore the use of AI in order to get from the assessment to an appropriate “digital prescription” for a citizen.

What’s in it for bright, enthusiastic participants to solve this challenge? i.e. is there a commercial/ procurement opportunity for a potential solution beyond a CivTech contract?

Across the world, ageing populations and decreasing workforces, and the continued difficulty of recruitment and retention to the care sector, along with the impact of austerity budgets mean that services will not be able to be delivered as they are now.  Digital solutions provide a means of giving choice and control to citizens and promoting self-management reduces the burden on those services. Developing a tool which allows this to happen will be attractive to many health and care providers.

What resources can the Challenge Sponsor Team provide?

The Challenge Sponsor team provides access to team members from a range of projects with valuable knowledge, expertise and connections. These include Alzheimer Scotland Development team, Scottish Government Technology Enabled Care programme, and other individuals from key partners with explicit knowledge of specific health conditions. 

Are there any systems (software, APIs, databases)  with which the challenge solution will have to be integrated?

Not existing, but should be aware of work being done by Digital Health & Care Institute (DHI) to create a data brokerage. Solution should have open APIs for future development.

Is there a strategy or policy priority to which the challenge is aligned or other background documentation/information relevant to the Challenge?

Strategy and policy alignments include: 

  • Digital Health and Care Strategy
  • Alzheimer Scotland Technology Charter
  • Changes to overnight support legislation
  • Analogue to Digital

Alzheimer Scotland has recently been leading on a Test of Change, and has worked with partners to co-produce a model for a digital assessment which would support access.


Challenge Sponsor selection panel members

Joyce Gray: Deputy Director Development, Lead on Innovation Projects, Alzheimer Scotland 

Joyce joined Alzheimer Scotland in January 2010 as Deputy Director of Development and leads on major projects that have attracted international interest e.g. Dementia Dog. Joyce has a BA in Business and Enterprise and IPD Diploma in Training Management, in addition to over 30 years experience in the health and social care sector.She started her career as a Psychiatric Nurse, but had the opportunity to join the voluntary sector in the early nineties and has since worked with young people excluded from main stream education, managed Carers Centres where she developed one of the first young carers services in the Scotland. Also before joining Alzheimer Scotland she worked on developing new and innovative services for people with learning disabilities. In her current role she drives the design innovation programme at Alzheimer Scotland pioneering the use of creativity to help build collaborative user driven service innovation.


Gillian Anderson: Digital Lead, Alzheimer Scotland 

Gillian has a passion for technology that has influenced most of her working life. The potential it creates for people to experience and enjoy life to its fullest is something which has been a constant thread; from working with beginners touching a computer or ipad for the first time, through to coding skills for voice assistants. Now, as Digital Lead for Alzheimer Scotland, she uses her skills to understand and translate the technical into practical use and works with innovators and creators of technology products and services to encourage them to hear the voices and experiences of people living with dementia and create well designed, elegant solutions. Some of her recent work includes a good practice guide for the use of Virtual Reality which has  become the basis for a proposed trial into its therapeutic benefits, and bringing together a national working group to test how consumer technology can be incorporated with telecare provision in Scotland.

Doreen Watson, Scottish Government 

Published on: 27 August 2019