Organisations as diverse as the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, the Care Quality Commission, Sense and Garner Medical have all held successful conferences, training days and events at our facilities.
For example, carers, clinicians and academics discovered the latest augmented and alternative communication technologies at the Communication Matters Roadshow, which was held at UEA’s Norwich Electronic Assistive Technology (NEAT) Centre in 2016.
The range of assistive technology available to users of aided communication is always improving. Clinicians, carers and academics need to stay abreast of the latest developments so that they can provide the very best care and keep driving new advances. Communication Matters is a national charity dedicated to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Its team was looking for an inspiring location for a roadshow aimed at introducing practitioners, carers and academics to the latest innovations in the field.
The NEAT Centre is a unique training and research facility. It replicates a domestic or care home setting, complete with living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. The Centre is used for training students, healthcare professionals and carers, as well as for research ranging from dementia care to stroke rehabilitation. Its state-of-the-art facilities attract different charities and NHS organisations.
The Communication Matters Roadshow showcased seven different AAC technology companies, with each providing a 40-minute presentation as well as product demonstrations. Participants discovered the latest technological advances for clients living with conditions and disabilities as diverse as spinal cord injuries, motor-neuron disease, autism, cerebral palsy and aphasia. The roadshow also enabled clinicians, carers and academics to come together and exchange ideas and experiences.
The Communication Matters Roadshow attracted 75 clinicians, academics, carers and students, who fed back that the event provided new knowledge that they could implement in patient care.
Hilary Gardner, a manager at Communication Matters, said:
‘As well as allowing healthcare professionals and members of the public to get a sense of the technology that’s out there, our collaboration with UEA allowed us to engage with students and introduce the next generation of professionals to our work. It was an extremely well thought out, cost effective event and it allowed us to build our regional network too.’
The roadshow was an exciting new use for a popular facility, added Dr Jane Hibbard, lecturer and NEAT academic lead, UEA. She said:
‘Holding up to 50 people and boasting streaming and video technology, the Norwich Electronic Assistive Technology (NEAT) Centre at UEA is unique in any UK university.’