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Can Alexa be a telecare system to listen out when you need emergency help?

Could Amazon’s Alexa disrupt the telecare industry?

Amazon dot a small black disc gadget with blue lights.

Amazon ‘Echo dot’ is now arond £50 and can connect to your mobile phone.

If you need help and can’t reach a phone, Amazon’s Alexa could be a lifeline.

Amazon’s hands-free devices are becoming more and more popular for disabled people who are finding them a boon for enhancing daily life, with an easy interface and voice control of music, books, information  and web shopping. In homes up and down the country, people are using them for everything from ordering shopping online to checking the weather. And now they can call your friends and relatives when you want them, adding a new level of communication and if needed, support. Almost an Alexa telecare system!
Amazon has added a new function to Alexa to allow you to link your mobile phone and call a friend or relative.  You can use it to phone or message anyone hands-free using the alexa family of devices including Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show or the Alexa app on android smart phones or iphones, all with no extra cost.

Could Alexa supplement or replace telecare alarms for some people?

The Telecare industry provides peace of mind for people at home who may need help in an emergency and their families, traditionally using push button pendants worn on the body or pullcords installed in the house. The Alexa Echo system means you won’t even need to access those devices to make a call straight to your nearest and dearest, so could provide competition.
On the plus side, there are no buttons to be pushed or cords to be pulled. Only your voice is needed to activate Alexa and get your call made or message sent to your friends or relatives. All they need to do is download the free app onto their phones, and they can be reached instantly whenever you want. It does mean they will need their phones on and charged at all times. It also means that you need to be in voice range of an alexa device and able to call out. You could buy the smaller echo dot (at £50) and put them in each room. There is a voice operated controller that could also be carried.
And it’s not just in an emergency that you can make a call. Alexa will let you stay in touch all the time, with a hands-free calling and messaging system. this could be very useful for people who struggle with the buttons on phones or understanding how to use smart phones. Alexa will let also let you know when someone is calling you and the light ring will pulse green on newer Echo devices. You ask Alexa to answer or ignore the call.

“Drop in” : remote listening by others to your room!

There is also a feature called Drop In that allows selected family and friends to automatically call in to your device and listen to anything happening in range. This has privacy issues but could also be very reassuring to family and can be completely controlled by the owner of the device.

 

Disadvantages of Alexa as a telecare device

On the other hand, Alexa’s benefits are offset by the lack of 24-hour monitoring and support from call centres that are provided by a local Council services or private companies and the device could be affected by power cuts, whereas telecare systems are protected with back-up batteries.
A dark cylinder that houses the gadget Amazon alexa

Amazon echo

 

Old man with a telecare alarm pendant

Alarms needn’t be stigmatising but some people may feel that way. Image from https://www.telecarechoice.co.uk/ who are a private telecare provider

Then there is the issue of cost. Alexa costs £50 for the smaller ‘echo dot’ system but as mentioned above, you may need more than one to provide coverage- and while it offers a whole lot more than just telecare of course, it could be a big cost to pay upfront, compared to the smaller weekly charge, (around £5 or less), for traditional telecare devices.

However, some people may be reluctant to have telecare installed because of the stigma issues of pendants and monitoring. ‘Alexa telecare’ may be much more appealing to younger people or as a stepping stone to more traditional telecare if it becomes needed or as a supplement to offer more options and a ‘less formal’ call for help.

So what else can it offer? Alexa brings a whole world of communication, including downloadable quizzes, podcasts and music from Amazon. You can listen to the news, find out about the weather and “check in” with friends and relatives – as well as order anything online from mail order giants Amazon.
For some it might be a good way to supplement your existing emergency telecare needs; for others, it could even replace it altogether. But it’s worth investigating the device before you make an investment in it.

Learn more about Alexa and Echo here: amazon.co.uk/alexacalling

A service directory of telecare providers is here https://www.tsa-voice.org.uk/service-provider-directory

Top Four Packaging Openers and Safety Cutters

Top Packaging Openers and Safety Cutters

 

Using a purpose made safety cutter makes opening those eagerly awaited mail order products so much quicker and safer! We’re buying more online than ever before and with online shopping comes box after box of not always well-wrapped goodies. Getting packages open is not easy at the best of times and it can be highly problematic if you have a disability which effects your limbs, grip, fine motor skills or coordination. Here we’re looking at some gadgets designed to make ripping open boxes and getting to your goodies easier than ever before, with an eye on their suitability for disabled people.

Many of the package openers on the market are utility tools which can be used around the home in other ways. Many cutters double up as kitchen tools, can be used for cutting ties off clothes, couponing, arts and crafts and much more.

iSlice Safety Cutter

The iSlice Safety Cutter features a ceramic blade, which is quick, easy and safe to use. The device is a complete replacement for scissors and traditional safety knives. It can be used for removing film, shrink wrap or difficult moulded plastic packaging. It is also magnetised and has a built-in keyring hole making it portable and easy to use on the go.

 

Westcott Box Opener

Once again featuring a ceramic blade, this Westcott Utility Cutter benefits from a durable and robust design. Ceramic lasts up to 10 times longer than stainless steel so it makes for a long-lasting blade. The compact size of this box opener makes it a popular choice and the fixed blade and finger loop help when guiding and controlling the blade.

 

Zibra Open-It!

Sold as a product which relieves the stress of “wrap rage”, the Zibra Open-It is a strong utility cutter. It can slice through hard packaging as well as paper and plastic, easily breaking through twist ties and zip ties. It has additional functionality allowing it to pop bottle caps and unscrew bottle caps.

 

 

 

 

 

Nimble: The One-Finger Package Opener – Our Top Pick!

Yellow thimble shaped rubber cutting tool

Nimble Safety Cutter

Topping our list of package openers is the Nimble. This smart and unique device stands out because of its accessible design. Using just a single finger, this device makes it easy for people with a range of disabilities to easily cut and slice as required. A single finger swipe can cut open a box, food packaging or any other item, without any risk of injury. The safe blade profile offers no risk of injury and it the one-finger operation design (patent pending) means even if you have limited hand mobility, you should be able to properly use and benefit from the Nimble.

The Nimble package opener is suitable for people with joint paint, little hand strength, tremors and reduced hand-eye coordination, as well as in many other situations. The device was developed and tested by over 150 people, some with disabilities, some without and the result is this effective and well-designed cutter for many different items in the home.

Safe on the skin

A unique benefit of the Nimble is the small blade means it is very difficult to hurt yourself. It is so small that the ridges of your skin ridges actually move out of the way and it doesn’t cut you. I know it sounds incredible but it is probably the safest cutter on the market today. This makes it particularly useful for anyone with dexterity problems. The bright yellow colour is also a boon for those with a visual impairment.

 

 

You can see exactly how the Nimble works in this useful video:

Order your nimble directly from Amazon here  http://amzn.to/2nAGEEC

 

 

 

Zec Reviews – Trabasack Mini Connect

The following is a wonderful review of the Trabasack Mini Connect, kindly written for us by fellow blogger Zec.

Zec has been a wheelchair user for a number of years, and we’re glad to say that his Trabasack Mini Connect seems to have provided the perfect perch for his tablet computer whilst not only out-and-about, but at home, too!

Please read on for Zec’s review and you will find further info about his blog at the end.

I have on my lap a bag/tray called a Trabasack© that was sent to me to try and review, I always review honestly. I have seen a Trabasack on Facebook and Twitter before but and here is a confession, I thought it’s something I wouldn’t need as I thought it might be for someone who has higher needs than me.

Photographic overview of the Trabasack Mini Connect in its packaging, which lists the benefits and features of the lap tray bag

A brand new Trabasack Mini Connect in packaging – ready to be tried and tested!

The one I have on my lap is the Mini Connect, it’s the smaller of the two that I was sent but I have immediately decided it’s my favourite.

It’s about 14 by 10 inches with two very sturdy fabric carry handles; on one side is a flat tray that is covered with a fabric that the hook side of Velcro will attach to. A zip with a double open zip with rings attached to the zipper that allow very easy opening even if you have poor grip, manual dexterity and arthritic hands would be able to open it easily.

Inside a zipped pocket contains a bean bag that allows the bag to mould to your legs, this means it’s not only very comfortable and this is important because my legs are very sensitive, it also means the bag is level on your lap. I use a Sony Xperia Z tablet because a laptop hurts my legs; I spend a lot of time laid in bed or on the settee and the tablet is ideal.

Photograph shows the back of a white tablet computer case, with two parallel strips of black adhesive hook tape on the back.

Securing items such as tablet computers or iPads to the surface of the Mini Connect is quick and easy, using our adhesive velcro tape.

Now that I have the Trabasack Mini Connect it’s even better, I used a pack of Trabasack Hook sticking tape, a pack contains four 2.5 x 30cm pieces and I used two pieces on my tablet case and attached it to the tray, in hindsight one piece cut into two would have been adequate because it is more than secure. I’m laid slightly to one side but the Mini Connect is still sat straight and secure, inside I have my meds for today and my mobile phone, although there is room for it on the tray and that is what I have just done now I have thought of it.

I keep my glasses secure when not wearing them by sliding an arm through one of the D rings. Laid in bed the tablet can sit on the Trabasack on my stomach or on the quilt and doesn’t slip and slide about. I have hung the Trabasack on the back of my wheelchair next to the settee to watch a film and there must be many more ways that I haven’t used yet. It is also ideal for when I have an outpatient appointment; I take my tablet along to pass the time because quite often it’s a long wait.

Now I’m not a slim person, some may even go as far as to say I had a big belly and I guess they are right. So sat in my wheelchair, my lap space is at a premium, having the tablet on my lap is awkward and I have to make sure I hold it, in between I have to put it in my rucksack on the back of my wheelchair and its almost asking for someone to steal it, but now it can sit on my lap secure and I can put it inside the Trabasack when I’m finished and know it’s in sight and safe.

Photograph of a tablet computer and iPhone attached to the tray surface of the Trabasack Mini Connect wheelchair tray bag

Here Zec’s phone and tablet computer sit safe and secure upon the tray surface of the Mini Connect.

I have had the Trabasack Mini Connect for a good few weeks, my tablet is always attached to the front and when I am not using it, I just flip the tablet case closed and it stays there. All I do when I want it is to pick up the Mini connect by the handles and onto my lap and open the tablet, it then sits on my lap so naturally, it even sits on one leg without a balance problem. Yesterday I took the tablet off of the Trabasack for the first time and honestly I didn’t like it and put it straight back on, it’s perfect and my in-laws were talking about getting one for their iPads.

The Trabasack can be carried by the handles, over one shoulder with one strap or worn like a rucksack. In a wheelchair a strap can go around your waist (unless you are a biscuit eater like me) or two side straps can attach to the wheelchair or buggy. I slide a strap around my thighs and it is secure. The thing is, the Trabasack Mini isn’t just handy because I have a disability, it would be useful on the train or in a car, its handy storage for a tablet or notebook and some extra items that you need to take along. The design is perfect and the optional media mount attachment can be used to hold an ipad, tablet or kindle at the right angle or wrapped to hold a bottle in place.

All in all a great product that serves as a bag and a surface to work on and connect your tech.

Thanks again Zec for such a fantastic and positive review of the Trabasack Mini Connect! If you’d like to read more about Zec, please visit his blog “Sat on My Butt” for lots of insightful life stories, and his journey living with chronic pain.