Would you like a FREE smart speaker for your care home?

You may remember that in Spring we launched a project that involves using smart speakers within care environments. This is being championed by the University of Plymouth thanks to a Technology Enabled Care grant from Cornwall Council.

The scheme enables care homes in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to claim a free of charge Echo Spot to use with their staff and residents, to support everyday activities that entertain, inform and connect care home residents, and help maintain or improve their quality of life.

The scheme is underway, and has already enabled 130 care homes across Cornwall to take the free device and explore the benefits for staff and residents.
We only have a handful of devices left. If you think you may benefit from using one, get in touch to arrange delivery of your Echo Spot device.

#TheRealEPICStory Haley Blake – Trevern – Smart Speakers

We spoke to Hayley, the manager at Trevern Care Home in Falmouth to find out about her experience of using an Echo Spot to help support her staff and residents. The device was provided by the University of Plymouth, with thanks to a Technology Enabled Care Grant from Cornwall Council.

How are other homes using their device?

There are so many ways to use smart speaker devices, and many of these activities can enrich day to day experiences for residents and release time to care from staff.
These can be:

  • Playing age appropriate music, which can be asked for by a resident, or by a member of staff whilst continuing to deliver care.
  • Skype video sessions with family and friends who are unable to visit regularly, for example grandchildren that may have moved abroad
  • Reminiscence activities; recalling happy memories from the past with stories, music or activities such as baking along with Alexa
  • Using Alexa to answer common queries from residents, such as the lunch menu, or what time it is
  • Playing quizzes amongst groups of residents

To find out more about smart speakers and how they can be used,visit our blog where we discuss ‘what are smart speakers?’

How do we benefit from you claiming a free device?

We know it sounds like there is a catch, but all we would like in return is to hear how you, your staff and residents are using the device – it could give us some tips or let others know a great way that they can use it too! We ask homes involved in the scheme to send us a diary with their feedback – good, bad or ugly! We want to hear if when using your device there is any aspect that you and/or your residents don’t enjoy, as this will help our research which started in April 2019, to understand how to support and encourage the adoption of similar devices.

Will there be any support for using the device?

The scheme is proud to have 23 Digital Health Champions (and counting!) who are all students studying a healthcare discipline. We hope to pair you with a Digital Health Champion, once you sign up to help you overcome any challenges that you may be experiencing, give you inspiration or help you set up new activities or tasks using the device.
Together you can identify what works well and not so well, so that we can all share our learning, and make sure everyone involved can benefit from using smart speakers.

Is Alexa listening? 

Recently, there have been some scare stories in the news about recordings from Alexa being reviewed by human staff working for Amazon. These stories have been – as is often the case with the media – been reported in a rather confused and sensational way. Like Google and other search engines, Amazon will be sampling anonymised Alexa requests to understand how to make them work better. If this concerns you, you can opt out by changing the setting on Alexa Privacy.

There is no cause for alarm, all data sent and stored through using Alexa is governed by the same rules and legislation that govern all personal data, including the Data Protection Act and GDPR. Anything said after invoking the wake word (e.g. “Alexa”) gets recorded and stored by default, much as the history of your Google or Safari searches is stored. Like Google, you can review your Alexa request history and delete it if you wish. We give details in the user guide provided when we sign you up, on how to do this, and can offer support for any other queries that you may have.

If you would like to claim one of the remaining devices to use within your care home, please contact us so that we can enroll you on the scheme before we run out of devices!
We estimate they will all be allocated by mid September.

To contact us by telephone, please call Katie on 07432 155243.

If you would like to email us to sign up, please use the address Katie.edwards@plymouth.ac.uk.



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