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NHS Trust - Nottinghamshire Healthcare
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Trust ‘buddies-up’ with assistive technology

Nottinghamshire Healthcare is using the latest developments in assistive technology to enhance services and support service users to have more control over their own recovery. 

Staff have been receiving training to use a special phone app which can further support people accessing psychological therapy services.  So far, 80% of employees working in the Trust’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Let’s Talk Wellbeing service in the City are trained to use Buddy and have been seeing encouraging results with patients using it appropriately and consistently making it a positive addition to treatment.   70% of staff in the Let’s Talk Wellbeing service in the County have just finished their training and an initial small trial in the area has proved successful.

Buddy is designed as a tool to support therapy.  It enables clients to use text messaging to keep a daily diary of what they are doing and how they are feeling.  They can then use it to keep track of their mood and the behaviour and activities that affect it.  The app also acts as a handy reminder of therapy appointments and timescales in relation to goal setting and achieving milestones by agreed timescales.

Therapists can benefit from an insight into the client’s life in between sessions which frees up more session time for goal setting and discussing behaviour change.  By providing the client with more control and insight into their own condition, the app enables a more effective recovery.

Dr Maureen Tomeny, Clinical Director of Let’s Talk Wellbeing services said:  “I believe technology assisted therapy has to be the future and have seen firsthand the benefits it can bring in supporting therapeutic interventions.  We are very keen to adopt new and innovative ways in which our service users are able to take more control of their own recovery journey yet have the reassurance that the clinical experts are there to support them if required.”

The Trust is also trialling another new system ‘Flo’, in partnership with Productive Notts.  Similar to Buddy it acts as a handy reminder for appointments and prompts for personal health checks.   As well as benefitting the individual users, a reduction in missed appointments, adds to service efficiency and cost effectiveness. 

Other key future developments planned at Nottinghamshire Healthcare include a pilot in the use of Skype based consultations for individuals who prefer not to attend a hospital or clinic to access therapy.  A special Health Technology Co-operative (HTC) research grant has also been developed by Professor Chris Hollis.  This will enable the Trust to support a key piece of research bringing together patients, clinicians, academics and industry experts together to maximise the opportunities from using technology and bio-medical engineering to deliver new ways to diagnose and manage mental health conditions more efficiently and effectively.  Initial work will focus on neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, Tourette’s syndrome and autism and mood disorders including depression and bipolar disorder.

Chief Executive, Professor Mike Cooke CBE said:  “By using technology appropriately and responsibly, it can prove a useful tool to service users and clinicians alike.  I think these are really exciting developments which can provide true benefits.  All of this, along with our active engagement in the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network bid, means that we can ensure we are at the forefront of ensuring our services are driven by the latest research and innovative models of care.”