Mindings is currently part-way through a clinical study across the East of England, thanks to a competition won last year, run by the East of England Local Government Association (EELGA).
In October 2012, Improvement East (now EELGA) launched a competition, in partnership with NHS Midlands and East, to find innovative new products and services that will keep older people out of long-term care. The prize was £100,000 of funding to develop the winning business, and the opportunity to have their product or service evaluated in a trial. After an initial pre-selection a “Dragon’s Den”-style competition was run on December 3 which Mindings’ Stuart Arnott pitched at and won.
An internal competition was then held and Central Bedfordshire Council (a unitary authority) and Cambridgeshire County Council (a non-metropolitan county council) were chosen to be the regions in which the trial was run. Thirty individuals identified as socially isolated were selected and Mindings was installed in their homes.
I thought that it might be interesting to share some observations as the trial progresses. To respect the privacy of the individuals I can’t identify trialists, so these observations will be, by their very nature, generalisations. I do think, though, that these observations will have some validity (or will at least be interesting jumping-off points for discussion) , and if I‘m referring to the circumstances of one specific individual or an edge-case then I’ll indicate so.
When presenting Mindings to audiences I always start off by saying that I’m not a clinician, an academic or someone with experience in social care, so when we “discover” something that works particularly well it’s often a surprise! Clearly it’s not a totally accidental discovery, it’s the culmination of three years of experience building the Mindings service and working closely with users and Beta testers, but sometimes a new feature or even a small tweak of an existing feature will have a dramatic effect on useage or impact.
Furthermore, I will be deliberately vague when discussing our interactions with the people and organisations supporting and evaluating the trial. We’ve had many ups and down, and anyone who has ever worked with local authorities and social care organisations will likely be unsurprised by some of the problems we’ve had! However this is not an exercise in venting frustration or placing blame, because for every issue that’s driven us crazy, our naivety and lack of understanding of how large organisations works has likely driven them crazy too! So I will try to draw some helpful conclusions rather than just have a moan.