CleverCogs™ Goes West to Ayr - three stories...

Connecting with care staff. Video calling family. Receiving reminders to take medication. Sending out alarm calls or simply playing games and listening to music. Blackwood’s digitally enhanced care system, CleverCogs™, is an easy to use platform for a range of practical as well as fun things.

In late 2016 CleverCogs™ turned its gaze West to the sea-side town of Ayr. Blackwood’s development in this coastal community is home to dozens of people, many of whom have complex disabilities and receive care and support in their own home. Several of the tenants here have had their CleverCogs™ device since the end of last year and have been receiving training. We spoke to a couple customers to find out how they’ve been getting on.


Meet Billy…

Billy’s home is keenly decorated with some of the things and people he idolises. The late Princess Diana has pride of place up on his wall including a photo of her meeting Billy himself some 25 years ago. Other interests include history, art and TV, all noticeable by the décor and memorabilia which adorn the walls and shelves in his living room, surrounding his CleverCogs™ screen.

Billy uses a wheelchair to get about and has difficulties remembering things. He had never used any kind of computer before but has had CleverCogs™ since October. His interest was piqued during his very first meeting when he heard about CleverCogs™. “I wanted it straight off. I was interested in the whole package”, he says.

Already a keen reader who loves to research his interests, Billy was excited to have the World Wide Web at his disposal. This, it would appear, is his primary use for CleverCogs™.


“I haven't thought of anything more I want to do with it for now”, he says, “but I'm happy with it now and I'm definitely going to use it.” Billy refers to some of the work done with him by Blackwood’s innovation team to personalise his device for optimum user friendliness.


“Some of the buttons were in the way and I couldn't get rid of them. I didn't use them very much. But I like it now it’s been sorted”


Woody’s story


Woody’s story with CleverCogs™ has not been entirely without incident. From a software point of view, he likes it, which is the good news. The practical and logistical side of things on the other hand has been a little more complicated.


A wheelchair user with limited dexterity, Woody is largely unable to use his voice and communicates using a text-to-speech machine attached to his wheelchair. He has used a computer before, thanks to an adapted keyboard and mouse which have since been transferred to his CleverCogs™ device. These he finds extremely useful.


Much like Billy, Woody uses CleverCogs™ to indulge his interests. “I use it for listening to music and watching wrestling and football”, he tells Blackwood’s visiting Innovation team. “It’s very helpful for searching for things and learning new stuff”.


He raises a couple of issues though with the positioning of his touch screen, which he says he can use fine if it’s held in place. “The screen slides down when I try to touch it. Otherwise using the touch screen works fine for me.” An early method that was tested for holding the screen in place was a small plastic wedge that was blue tacked to the table but this proved ineffective. Now the Innovation team is working on a new solution to try and get Woody using the touch screen.


Margaret's success


“I was not too keen on it to start with.” Margaret admits frankly when asked about CleverCogs™. Nonetheless she agreed to give it a chance. Her initial reticence was very short-lived.


“I’d never had a laptop or tablet. I just thought I wouldn't be interested. Thought I'd be happy to plod along without it but once it was in the house I found it very interesting and I just seemed to take to it.”


Her lack of pre-existing IT skills was no great barrier. With the right level of support and a can-do attitude Margaret was soon teaching herself. “It was a lot easier to use than I thought, and [the Digital Skills Trainer] added all my interests. I’m very interested in history and have read lots of books and seen films but now I was able to do research myself.”


Her research went far beyond the purely educational and took on a more practical purpose. A mobility scooter user, Margaret has never yet been abroad by herself. With CleverCogs™ at her finger tips she has researched and planned a solo holiday to Vietnam for later in the year. “Before that the travel agents would've had to fill me in or my daughter would've shown me on her computer. Now I'm able to research it myself.”


She goes on to say – “If I want to learn something new or find out about something I just look it up. I'm just experimenting and learning. It's trial and error. If you don't try you don't get.”


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