Adults living with learning disabilities from the Humber and East Riding region will be the first in the UK to trial a new app that aims to improve their quality of life and health outcomes by helping them to communicate more effectively.
Two hundred patients from Humber NHS Foundation Trust’s Learning Disability service will be taking part in the trial of the ‘My Health Guide’ app, designed and developed by London-based software firm Maldaba Ltd and inspired by the heartwarming story of “Matthew’s Book”.
“Matthew’s Book” is an iPad-based, multi-media guide that accompanies Hull-based Matthew Prosser wherever he goes. Matthew has profound and complex needs and his book allows carers and healthcare professionals to understand essential aspects of his care and what good practice means for him.
The app, commissioned and funded by NHS England and SBRI Healthcare, enables users to capture video, audio, images and text in a single, user-friendly format and share selected information with carers, guardians and health professionals.
As well as delivering better health outcomes, less confusion and increased confidence for users, the app also allows carers to be more informed and involved and gives health providers integrated, real-time data, better patient communication and the opportunity to develop more effective front line services.
Charlotte Slaney, who has learning disabilities and attends Millers Day Centre in Beverley, said: “It’s excellent and very easy to use. It gets the thumbs up from me!”
Humber NHS Foundation Trust chief executive David Hill said: “It’s vital that we support the independence and aspirations of people who use our services by adopting new digital technologies such as My Health Guide.
“Digital technology, including smart phones and tablets, can be used to support our patients and reduce the burden on health services. If we fail to utilise these technologies then we lose our relevance to the lives of our patients.”
Joanne Bone, a senior nurse with Humber NHS Foundation Trust, has been closely involved with the development of the app over the past year. She said: “There’s been a lot of excitement amongst people about this app and we are seeing its impact reflected in improved communication with patients on a daily basis.
“It means that we are able to provide better, more focused care based on the desires and wishes of the patient and I foresee My Health Guide as being an important addition to learning disabled services across the UK. In the longer term this app could be used to help people with a wide variety of conditions,” added Joanne.
Lorenzo Gordon, joint founder and MD of Maldaba, said: “Matthew’s Book is an inspiring story of how a person with special needs was able to effectively communicate the emotions and experiences from his life, as well as enable his carers to form a stronger relationship with Matthew.
“People with learning disabilities often have difficulty managing complex information that comes their way including information about their health and healthcare.
“We have a very strong ethical and social focus at Maldaba and were keen to create an easy-to-use app that replicates the idea of Matthew’s Book using modern technology. We wanted to find a way in which people could hold on to, and make sense of the information they are given about their health and wellbeing.
“We also wanted to find a way in which health professionals could get across important information to someone they support.
“My Health Guide enables and empowers people to communicate about themselves and their needs.”
Founded in 2002, Maldaba is a software company based in London that specialises in web-based and mobile applications for the public and non-profit sectors.