Controlling my Environment with Assistive Technology

Possum Environmental Controls

One of the many things I asked for as a result of my move onto a Personal Health Budget was another go at reviewing Environmental Controls for my flat. The first attempt (not long after I moved in) back in 2006 failed as the technology wasn’t available for opening my front door amongst other things. I was surprised as it had come such a long way since the Possum installation I first had at my parents’ house immediately after my accident in 1999 – that was 30 year old tech!

In 2007 though a game changer revolutionised my life – the iPhone. Many ask why I’m an Apple fan. Two reasons, beyond my enjoyment for shiny aesthetics. First – my use of them during my music degree. Second – the life-changing products that they seemed to reel-off with amazing consistency during a time where I found technology was going to play a fundamental part in my life and ability to live independently.

In one product I was suddenly able to do so much that I was previously dependent on others for support to access. I could email (probably quicker than you), engage in social media privately, browse the web as I pleased and listen to music without having to switch between a multitude of devices or call someone else for help.

Smartphones have exploded ever since and whether you’re an iOS or android (oh yes, or Windows too I guess) user, many of us take these for granted as standard in our lives with a plethora of apps at our disposal from an ever growing stream of creative developers. You can imagine my delight when this time round I learned RSL Steeper have a (completely customisable) app too and technology now has overcome those previous stumbling blocks.


The RSL App

Through the same device that I control my Sky+, I now control two TV’s, a blue-ray player, a WD player, an air conditioning unit, living room lights, bedroom lamp, front door lock and flat intercom. You’d think it would need tonnes of equipment, but it’s all programmed like a universal remote. There is an infra-red box in my living room and in my bedroom, with the two linking up to a wireless router sat in my hallway. The latter is the only downside, as it still has to have a dedicated wireless connection. This will more than be made up for the fact I will be able to open the front door from the outside with my phone myself!

The company are actively looking at developing a solution where the equipment can be set up and run through existing internet connections. At worst it means an extra two taps on my phone to swap networks (whilst remembering which one I’m on!), but it would be incredibly picky to call that an issue – #FirstWorldProblem at worst!

This came through the Leeds CCG which now allocates my Personal Health Budget. Changes to NHS commissioning came through the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Funding was set a side for assistive technology as a crucial part of enabling service uses to live in their own homes at a relatively low initial and long term cost. Carers also benefit through greater freedom and reduction in care burden – you can always guarantee that the intercom will start ringing just when they are unavailable!

If you would lime to find out more about the Electronic Assistive Technology Service that helped me, you can find out more information here.


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