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How a tech lending library is transforming lives in social care

29 Mar 2024

3 min read

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  • Digital
  • Good news story

This #GoodNewsFriday we hear from Alternative Futures Group about their Tech Lending Library that allows the people they support to borrow and try out different technologies.

For those being supported by Alternative Futures Group (AFG), technology can transform their lives for the better by supporting their independence and communication, and in some cases can decrease feelings of anxiety and loneliness. This is why the organisation that supports over 9,000 people across the North West houses a tech lending library that allows those it supports to borrow and try out different technologies.

 

Anthony’s story

 Anthony, 47, is supported by Alternative Futures Group in Lancaster and has seen great improvements in his physical and mental health through borrowing a smartphone and smartwatch from the AFG library.

Anthony, who has a learning disability and is non-verbal, took an interest in his support team’s mobile phones and photos. The team organised for Anthony to borrow a phone from the tech library to see if he could use it to take photos of his own.

Mick Dobson, Anthony's Support Worker said:

He got used to navigating around the phone really quickly and it's been amazing to see Anthony pursue his passion in photography, be creative, and build his own albums of memories with photos he has taken himself.

Seeing how quickly Anthony responded to the technology, his team organised the purchase of Anthony’s own phone and for him to try out a smartwatch from the library.

Mick said:

Although Anthony faces challenges in reading and writing, he found motivation in tracking the increasing numbers on his smartwatch as a measure of his daily progress. He is now much more enthusiastic about going outside and wants to go on walks every day, and his fitness and mood have improved as a result. He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to test out these items if it wasn’t for the tech lending library. Both the smartphone and watch have improved his mood, physical wellbeing and confidence, which has been amazing to see.

Stella’s story

Stella, 70, who is supported for a mental health condition in Liverpool, borrowed a robotic dog from the AFG library to help combat her loneliness and anxiety.

Stella, who had a dog when she was younger, said:

I stroke him, he talks and I talk back to him, and he makes me not be lonely.

Animal-assisted therapy, which includes robotic pet technology as well as live animals, has been proven to have a positive impact on depression, loneliness and anxiety.

Carol Toner, AFG Head of Business Development said: 

We’re proud to offer the people we support the opportunity to try out tech they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to use otherwise. We understand the pivotal role tech plays breaking down barriers and fostering independence for individuals like Anthony and Stella, and we are continuously adding to our collection to further enhance the lives of the people we support.

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