Lowri Fon Jones, Telecare Development Consultant, describes a recent, fast-paced event that she attended with Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. 

Last week I had a very unusual opportunity to attend a ‘speed dating event’ at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. Now I’ll explain, as I had to explain to my other half, that this was, in fact, an opportunity to share information about our Telecare services during a seminar held for the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service staff, and not an opportunity to share my likes and dislikes.

I attended the event with Steven Mckiernan from Progress Housing, and we set up our Telecare table with banners, leaflets and a small sample of equipment from the iVi intelligent pendant to environmental sensors, which we thought the fire service staff would be most interested in. There were 9 other groups in attendance, from Lancashire Wellbeing Service to Age UK, each with their own table. Once set up, we would welcome 10 groups of 4-6 Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service staff who would go round each table in turn. Similar to a normal speed dating event, we would have 4 minutes to introduce ourselves, talk about our service, and answer any questions before a bell went and the group moved onto the table to the left.

Admittedly, we found that we were running over time with the first couple of groups, as the 4 minutes went by so quickly, but between Steven and myself we soon found our pace and refined what we wanted to share. I would introduce myself, and explain that we had brought a small sample of equipment for good reason; firstly as were limited to time but secondly, and most importantly, that we want to think of Telecare as fitting the needs of the person, and not the other way round.

In Lancashire, following a period of consultation with Tunstall, there has been a change where staff no longer need to specify the equipment. Instead, we ask them to give a good ‘story’ of the person, their needs and desired outcomes and Progress Housing will then assess the most suitable equipment. Therefore, during our talk we could explain how there is no need to be an expert in every piece of equipment, although we did want to share some of what is available. This was very well received! I would then hand over to Steven who would explain the referral and installation process, and how the groups could identify people who would benefit from a Telecare referral.

Forty minutes later, we were amazed at how quickly the session had gone and how enjoyable the fast-paced engagement session had been. What Steven and I were really amazed at is how we could refine what we do in just 4 minutes. Yes, what we had to say was simple and high level but the feedback was that it had provided attendees with everything that they needed to think about Telecare differently. I will most certainly think of speed dating differently in the future.