This year’s TSA ITEC exhibition talked about “the potential of technology to personalise support, empowering people and families to achieve their aspirations and control their own lives.” Here, Medequip Connect’s Tessa Duell and Chris Chung talk about how they viewed the event and discuss how their own experiences and understanding of the impact of TEC are developing.
What was your overall impression of this year’s ITEC Conference?
I found it very well managed and insightful. It’s my second ITEC experience, and I approached it better this year. Last year I was new to TEC and found it almost overwhelming, trying to attend absolutely everything and soak up as much information as possible. This year, I took a more selective approach to make the most of the event, attending specific workshops and plenary sessions based on my interests and relevance to my role at Medequip.
It was my first ITEC, and I absolutely loved it – maybe I was even too enthusiastic! It was a great opportunity to meet lots of suppliers in person and build a rapport, as well as explaining exactly what Medequip Connect does and our ethos in how we’re doing it.
It was also an eye opener in many ways. My experience to date in the industry has been with Medequip Connect, and it was rewarding to realise that we’re clearly ahead of the curve in terms of important issues like the digital switchover.
It also demonstrated to me that care technology devices and peripherals are all quite similar. The deciding factor is how we implement and use this technology to make the most of TEC, choosing suppliers that are keeping pace with the ever-evolving industry and keeping people and their real needs as the focus of everything we do. It’s the service that differentiates.
You’re both relatively new to the TEC sector. What are your thoughts on how it is developing?
At ITEC last year, I had the sense of entering into a sector which is really in flux, with CCGs becoming ICBs and the issue of the digital switchover and how that’s going to affect everything we do moving forward. This year, it felt more homed in on that broader focus on public health and social care and how TEC services were positioning and working to make a transformative difference to people’s lives.
It’s also increasingly about doing co production and personalisation right, finding out what matters to the people who use our services and making informed decisions with these people in mind. You can’t just lift and shift solutions, that’s been a big take-home for me as a Bid Writer.
I was first introduced to TEC a year ago, having previously worked in other sectors, so my awareness of TEC is recent, and I’m learning all the time!
My experience is based on our contract here in Dorset, where Medequip Connect partners with Dorset Council to deliver TEC support services to around 1,000 individuals. We try to make everything relatable to people in how we provide our services, promoting independent living, and I’m feeling for the first time that what I do can genuinely make a positive impact on other people’s lives.
My observation is that TEC is currently becoming involved in people’s lives at too late a stage. It’s an industry that’s needed, but people in general aren’t aware of the real potential. TEC is not just for vulnerable people, but for everyone. It should really be introduced to our lives not just when people can’t help themselves any more, but at a point where it can extend and enhance people’s independence, promoting real quality of life and safety.
TEC will be an important tool in helping to people to achieve the ‘gloriously ordinary life’ – the aspirational objective voiced by the Social Care Future vision.
Absolutely. People in our communities need TEC now. It’s not just about technology enabled care but technology enabled living. With TEC we have a real opportunity to improve independent quality of life, not just for individuals but also for their families and carers.
Larger institutions can be inherently resistant to change, but private businesses like Medequip Connect don’t face the same barriers. As a private business, we are more agile to change. We also make sure we are held to account by the people who use our services through independent forums such as Healthwatch for example.
Our commitment to co production involving stakeholders and the people who use our services makes me feel privileged to work in this sector, and proud to work for a company with such a positive workplace culture.
TEC has the potential to help people of all ages and abilities to self manage their own needs, delivering a route to independence to keep people safe, healthy and happy at home.
The recent report entitled ‘Technology-Enabled Lives: Delivering Outcomes for People and Providers’ and published by the TEC Action Alliance has highlighted the slow take-up of TEC by councils, housing and care organisations – we really need to reverse this trend.
The sector is ready for a step change – there’s never been a better and more appropriate time to invest in technology to improve social care!
Chris Chung is Operations Manager for Medequip Connect in Dorset.
Tessa Duell is Bid Writer and Content Marketer for Medequip Connect’s Business Development team.