By Samantha Strickland, Delivery Manager, South West Academic Health Science Network
Since March 2020 the South West Academic Health Science Network (SW AHSN) has been working with its partners in health and care across the South West to spread innovative practice to support the health and wellbeing of communities in our region during COVID-19.
This has included repurposing some of our existing projects – like our Innovation Adoption Fund, which we made the decision to relaunch this spring to help the local community response to COVID-19.
Our original Innovation Adoption Fund was set up to support innovation for improvement in any aspect of health and care. In response to COVID-19, we re-launched the fund with a focus on supporting innovation with the potential to benefit people in later life, people self-isolating, and people at high risk from the coronavirus.
Our aim was to find and support teams across the South West, enabling faster adoption of their innovative ready-to-use technologies, services or interventions designed to help these communities by offering grants of up to £6,000.
We focused our search for solutions on three key areas:
- Mental health & wellbeing
- Delivering and monitoring care and support in the home
- Coordinating and mobilising social action
The fund was opened to South West-based innovators with a solution ready for spread or adopters looking to implement an innovation.
Following many fantastic applications and after much careful deliberation by our judging panel, we have awarded seven successful recipients a grant from our COVID-19 Innovation Adoption Fund.
Here we share with you these exciting innovations with the potential to support those affected by COVID-19.
Elephant Kiosks: COVID-19 Reception Kiosk
Cornish company Elephant Kiosks has designed a self-screening kiosk for care home staff, visitors and residents to assess them for possible COVID-19 before they enter the care home. If any tests
flag a potential harm to residents, an alert allows staff to take preventative action to reduce the chance of an outbreak at the home.
Elephant Kiosks are set to use the fund for the software design and build of the kiosks to provide to care homes across the South West.
Wellmoor: improving strength and balance in frail and elderly patients
Wellmoor, a community health & wellbeing initiative based on Dartmoor will be organising virtual strength and balance classes for frail and elderly patients of Moretonhampstead Health Centre whilst they are potentially unable to access their GP surgery or hospital safely.
As well as addressing Physical symptoms, Wellmoor aims to help with the loneliness experienced by those isolating by hosting ‘club sessions’, which create a space for participants to get to know each other, share experiences and build relationships.
Image: Clare Parker (sessions pre-COVID-19)
Cascade 3D: Supporting COPD patients to self-manage
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust are using Cascade 3D, a remote monitoring device which helps patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to self-manage their health more effectively by helping them to identify triggers, reduce their anxieties, understand what is normal for them, and allow clinicians to identify when they need to intervene early to prevent the patient’s health declining.
Cascade 3D uses Bluetooth-enabled health monitors to record health readings and enable data to be remotely transmitted. The technology is reducing time spent in hospital and minimising risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Made Open: A platform for community resources
Made Open deliver a range of platforms that harness community resources and link people to non-medical support such as physical activity programmes, offers of support and volunteering opportunities.
The Cornwall-based company has had great impact through their work with Torbay Community Development Trust, seeing large reductions in self-reported loneliness, extreme anxiety and depression as well as lower rates of GP appointments and hospital admittance.
Made Open will be using our grant to develop their platforms, enabling their clients across the region to deliver a more effective, holistic and ‘person-centred’ social prescribing model. They will be analysing data in order to capture a more detailed picture of an individual’s needs and their various social interactions, in turn helping health organisations to record the progress that each individual is making, allowing them to develop a more personalised approach.
REACH-HF: Cardiac rehabilitation programme
The Rehabilitation Enablement in CHronic Heart Failure (REACH-HF) is a 12-week, evidence-based programme that was initially developed to help increase participation of heart failure patients and carers in rehabilitation therapies by bringing care into their own homes, minimising hospital or GP trips.
The programme features a suite of resources on self-care education, a choice of exercise programmes as well as psychological support, designed by clinicians, academics and patients. Their funding will be used to provide REACH-HF training to clinicians across the South West, enabling delivery of the programme to patients.
HOPE: Adding value to an established self-management programme through virtual reality
HOPE is a successful group based programme that combines self-management education, health coaching and peer support across Devon by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and partners. The original face-to-face programme had demonstrated positive benefits for participants’ well-being and ability to self-manage their health conditions. Since the trust has moved the course online to support those isolating or shielding during COVID-19, some of the programme benefits have been limited or lost. Now the trust plans to test and embed a virtual reality element for those people who struggle with some of the activities on their own. The hope is that using the headsets will enable participants to practice and further develop their skills in particular relaxation, mindfulness and for some physical activities.
Alison Flanagan Coaching: Online group lifestyle consultations
Alison Flanagan Coaching is a Cornwall-based enterprise offering health, professional and personal coaching.
Alison plans to run online group lifestyle consultations for patients of St Austell Healthcare who are isolating amid COVID-19. The sessions will be run in small groups across several weeks and cover topics including discussion about life during the pandemic, healthy lifestyle habits, sleep and stress management, and maintaining relationships.
Although these sessions will be managed by a health care professional, the aim is to facilitate groups of patients who can offer each other peer support and hopefully continue this after the course ends.
Together these should reduce the number of patients suffering from poor wellbeing during isolation and also reduce the demand on the practice, as patients will be provided with help and guidance through other channels.
About our Innovation Adoption Fund
Our Innovation Adoption Fund, which forms part of our Innovation Exchange, aims to support faster implementation of innovative ready-to-use technology, services and interventions to improve people’s lives across the South West. The fund offers grants of up to £6,000 to voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs), health and care teams, and small businesses across Devon, Somerset, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for their feasibility, implementation or adoption projects.
Previous recipients of the fund have included North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, who used their grant to implement video consultations across a range of specialties, and Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership, who applied the funding to the Revive sports-based alcohol rehabilitation programme.
The seven innovations or enterprises selected for support from our COVID-19 Innovation Adoption Fund will be supported by the SW AHSN’s programmes to support digital-first care and understand the health inequalities exacerbated by COVID-19 to help people disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. We are looking forward to working with these innovators to see how their projects can aid the COVID-19 response.
For more information about our Innovation Adoption Fund and Innovation Exchange please see our webpage.