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Building Better Services: Getting the best from technology

Report of the training "The -Assistive- Technology as a Human Rights Enabler" from 26th to 28th November 2014 in Bologna, Italy


Wednesday 26th (afternoon): ENTELIS Pre-Seminar event was hosted by the City Government and targeted journalists, local policy makers and foreign delegates.

Thursday 27th: ENTELIS Seminar. Targeted at service providers, education & rehabilitation professionals, researchers, users and experts in both information and assistive technology. It will include keynote speeches, selected contributions from participants and parallel working groups; it will be organised to promote the maximum amount of information exchange, reciprocal learning and networking.
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Friday 28th: EASPD PCT Interest Group Training Seminar: “Bridging the Gap between Technology and Care: the opportunities of offered by  Person Centred Technologies in supporting clients with disabilities. ”

Overall, the training aimed to providing service providers a comprehensive understanding of how technology, and specifically person-centred technology (PCT), can contribute to our sector and in particularly to the quality of life of the persons they support.

The first training session was on ‘Technology for independent living: Study visit to the ‘smart homes’ of Corte Roncati in Bologna’ delivered by Massimiliano Malavasi and Matteo Rimondini – the representatives of AIAS Ausilioteca AT team.
Massimiliano Malavasi, together with Matteo Rimondini gave delegates a very stimulating start to the day by guiding delegates through the Corte Roncati Smart Homes. Two apartments had been created on part of the Corte Roncarti site, as if they were an individual’s home. Though similar, to assist visitors one focuses on personal autonomy and the other focuses on security and safety. Every item in each apartment, whether furniture, room layout, electrical points or the normal gadgets and equipment in any home had been carefully appraised and accessible, easy to use and highly adaptable options had been selected. People who wanted to live independently could visit the homes and get ideas about the devices and gadgets that would assist them and/or take part in a formal assessment process. Many of the delegates had expertise in PCT but the Smart Homes gave a practical start to the day, and balanced the activities of the ENTELIS project event that many of the delegates had attended on the previous two days.
Presentation 1 - Malavasi

The second training session was on ‘The need for a paradigm shift: from Care Technology to Person Centred Technologies’ by Steve Barnard of HFT, England.
Steve Barnard spoke with his usual passion as a long term advocate of the opportunities that PTC can deliver. In a wide ranging presentation, Steve emphasised that PCT can deliver 4 conditions for people with disabilities that we all desire in life: dignity, privacy, choice and control. He also illustrated in stark financial terms that PCT can really bring great cash savings for the authorities who pay for services. He gave an example of 4 middle aged people that HFT support. Over 1 year the cost of this support is some £107,000. If PCT solutions had not been adopted the additional cost per year would be some £90,000. Delegates were also provided with very useful internet links for introductions to PCT.
Presentation 2 - Barnard

The third training session entitled ‘Service delivery issues & social costs’ presented by Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf from AIAS and AAATE.
Evert Jan Hoogerwerf highlighted some of the key issues for service delivery. Whilst he also emphasised the benefits of PCT and reminded delegates that a person centred approach required service providers to consider a number of factors with the person they are seeking to support. These include:
•    User needs and wishes
•    The physical and/or mental condition of the user and evolution looking ahead
•    Adaptability of the environment
•    Resources available
•    The sustainability of any solution identified
This emphasize was highly supported as it had placed upon providers seeking an ‘assistive solution’ by reminding everyone that PCT is really just a means to an end, an outcome where the persons with a disability is more independent and has more choice and control.
Presentation 3 - Hoogerwerf

The fourth session on topic ‘Towards a competent care community’ was delivered by Klaus Miesenberger from Linz University and AAATE.
Klaus Miesenberger spoke to delegates about change management and the steps that providers need to take to move toward ‘an e-competent care community.’ In a tactful but nonetheless challenging presentation, he had urged service providers to play a much more active role. He was at pains to note that tremendous progress had been made over the last 20 years, but the need for further action is greater than ever. Technical advances mean that “we can have e-accessibility but nobody is implementing it and nobody seems to be demanding it.” Changing demographics also emphasize the need for us to act. He noted that PCT is a key means of addressing no less than 5 of the articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons. Klaus encouraged service providers to not ‘sit and wait’ or to simulate some interest in PCT but to create an accessibility strategy. They should take individual action and also participate in joint action with networks like AAATE and EASPD.
Presentation 4 - Miesenberger

The fifth session was ‘A policy framework’ presented to the audience by Luk Zelderloo - Secretary General of EASPD and president of Social Services Europe.
Luk Zelderloo gave delegates a concise, comprehensive and masterful review of the key European Commission policy strategies and funding programmes that initiatives on PCT can tie into.
Presentation 5 - Zelderloo

As the closing session for the training, an ‘Assessment of the expectations/wishes of the audience’ was hosted by Jim Crowe who was the Director of Learning Disability Wales and a board member of EASPD.
Jim Crowe concluded that the anticipated outputs from the seminar had been fully achieved. Delegates were present from 13 countries. A lot of extremely useful information had been shared and perspectives exchanged. However he emphasized that if significant outcomes were to be achieved from the seminar then delegates needed to identify and agree actions that we will implement as a follow up.

Discussion with delegates took place and a number of steps were agreed. The focus of the discussion is based on the idea that since both the legal framework and funding scheme are ready on the table, the most important moves for us now as the key stakeholders are to:
•    Make sure that our voice is heard at all levels
•    Focus on the implementation to engage more person centred technologies in social sectors to make sure that there is more empowering and sustainable services delivered to persons with disabilities.
Jim Crowe cautioned that we could not always count on goodwill from agencies. As an example he noted that researchers at Cardiff Law School had reviewed all English legislation and guidance on social care policy that had been issued over the last 20 years. They had found that references to control were entirely absent in the most recent 10 year period. Whilst we share an ambition that PCT can stimulate choice and control, we cannot be sure that all stakeholders have the same commitment.
On behalf of EASPD, he thanked AAATE for the fruitful collaboration that was taking place with them and also AIAS and the Public Health Agency of Bologna for the hospitality they had provided in hosting the seminar. The seminar had been made possible with the generous financial support of HFT and the U.K.’s DALLAS technology and care project.


Saturday 29th: Visit to Handimatica. Handimatica is the major Italian national exhibition & conference dedicated to innovations in information & communication technologies used for the benefit of people with disabilities. It is aimed at all types of disabilities: visual, auditory, motor, mental, cognitive. Handimatica is organized by the ASPHI Foundation.


For more information and registrations