As part of the EU initiative to promote better quality and more economically efficient solutions for the provision of health and social services, an innovative project with participants from five European countries has been launched, with Tunstall Healthcare Ltd leading the technical work.
The CommonWell project aims to support independent living and improve the quality of life for older people and those with long-term conditions.
12 partners are cooperating in the project, supported financially by the European Commission and coordinated by European consultants Empirica, to deliver ICT-enabled health and social care services in four Member States.
The integrated services are to support the effective management of chronic disease, and to address issues which affect independence, such as reduced agility, vision or hearing, in order to significantly improve the quality of life for older people and their families.
The project members are Milton Keynes Council, Stichting Smart Homes, Ev. Johanneswerk und Johanneswerk im Stadtteil, Empresa Pública de Emergencias Sanitarias, Fundación Andaluza de Servicios Sociales, Tunstall Healthcare, InterSystems, Work Research Centre and Empirica Communication and Technology Research.
A total of 400 users across four locations in Europe will receive the newly integrated services for at least twelve months.
The results of evaluating the pilot operation will be used to extend service provision and promote the wider uptake of this model of care across Europe.
Paul Timmers, head of the European Commission's 'ICT for Inclusion' Unit said, "This is an important project for the EU because it addresses the challenging issue of interworking between social services and health care. We support projects like CommonWell to get the results of innovative new technologies and services to consumers faster. We also want ICT to help improve the quality of life and perspectives of being able to live independently and healthily in real-life situations. Projects like CommonWell fulfil all these criteria by making it possible to deliver cheaper and better healthcare with ICT. These kind of solutions are ever more important to help Europe face demographic and financial challenges."
Empirica director Simon Robinson said: “CommonWell will be the first European project to show how today's internet-based communication can link care providers across social and health care organisations, provide continuity in care to people at home and improve the quality of care they receive, reducing unnecessary pressure on health services and prolonging the length of time older people can live independently.”
Steve Sadler, CTO at Tunstall Healthcare (UK) Ltd said: “The project is an excellent opportunity for Tunstall to cooperate with a wide range of stakeholders to improve health and social care outcomes, building on our experience as founder member of Continua Health Alliance. CommonWell will also improve the way primary and social care providers currently cooperate, helping to deliver a truly integrated model of care, with significant benefits to the people most in need.”
Milton Keynes and Eindhoven are the pilot locations that will initially address chronic disease management for older people suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (in Milton Keynes), and Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) (in Eindhoven).
The CommonWell services will improve communication between health and social care providers, helping to reduce anxiety and improve health outcomes for people with chronic conditions and those who need support when leaving hospital.
FASS and Johanneswerk are the sites focussing on improving services for independent living for older people. FASS currently operates the largest centre for social alarm in Europe with over 90,000 clients across Andalusia in Spain.
Johanneswerk runs several hospitals, a social alarm service and provides domiciliary care. CommonWell promises to support integrated care delivery in both organisations.
The project is part funded by the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme.