Independent Living #AT4Lockdown

CHAT Gathering April 28th 2020 – Independent Living

This is a summary of the discussions which took place at our second Covid 19 CHAT themed discussion on Independent Living.

This was a wide ranging discussion, with much focus on useful low tech solutions to support people to living independently. There was an acknowledgement that there is a need for training on promoting social connection and for this to happen in to the person’s community. AT offers control and independence and an ability to utilise different tools as standalone or integrated in their lives.

One participant said that AT provision needs to be mainstreamed, part of a PA package, where appropriate, and the AT Passport was mentioned as a viable way forward for this to happen. The need for an exemplar smart home was mentioned where people could take virtual tours or visit more long term. One participant pointed to the Muscular Dystrophy Ireland fully fitted out apartment in Dublin as an example of a smart home.

Clinical guidance/expertise should be in partnership with the person with disability when choosing AT etc and some time to trial different products before choices are made. Enable Ireland have an online AT loan library.

Technology resources mentioned in this discussion include:

Best video conferencing apps and software for accessibility:

Solutions to monitor home activity:

Other projects and resources:

  • Trinity Centre for Aging and Intellectual Disability are running a stay connected campaign for people with intellectual disabilities to use mainstream tech to record and share engaging creative activities while at home during a crisis. Check out
  • Enable Ireland: Covid blog on
  • Covid-19 information webinars for range or professionals supporting people with ID specifically looking at supports for carers and next one panellists will be people who use ID services
  • TU Dublin : Hands On SHAFE project may be helpful in producing training resources with input from the CHAT community.

CHAT Gathering April 7th 2020

The following are summaries of the diverse and animated discussions which took place in themed break out rooms as part of an online CHAT Gathering on April 7th 2020, titled

Covid 19: Challenges and Opportunities

Facilitator: Siobhán Long, Enable Ireland

Introductory discussion centred around the great benefit experienced when individuals have access to their own mobile devices as a starting point. It can also be a significant benefit for service providers, enabling remote check in.

Issues raised

  • Epilepsy Association have seen major positive impacts of providing tablet devices to people in their own homes: apps can provide reminders to take medications. This has resulted in reduced seizure occurrences and reduced hospital admissions
  • Another service provider piloted use of Tablets in home: increased use of smart home tech for daily living activities such as reading, managing lights/doors, changing TV channels, listening to music, etc.
  • Smart home tech use also reduced the need for PA/carer to be present: users reported significant benefits to their mental health as time alone is a strong indicator of personal wellbeing.
  • Benefits of wearable technology to monitor health and pre-empt health crises
  • Benefits of peer mentoring supports can’t be underestimated: support AT users to support one another

Resources identified:

  • Sourcing of devices for dispersal, with standard set up: seen as a huge need across many contexts: would enable remote communication with staff/services while also allowing for greater autonomy.
  • Shared public/private wifi: how can we share wifi to get more people online? Option for tech companies?
  • Real opportunity for the private sector to step up.

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