D4D funding for the future of healthcare

£30,000 of funding has been awarded to two teams of innovative healthcare professionals in a proof of concept competition designed to drive the development of life changing products.

In August, Devices for Dignity (D4D) – the organisation that delivers technology solutions to support people with long-term conditions preserving their dignity and independence, identified unmet clinical needs in two major areas of healthcare and ran a competition inviting anybody in the sector to apply for funding and support to turn innovative ideas into commercial realities.

The winning teams led by Mr Gareth Adkins & Dr Nicholas Fardon, will be awarded £15,000 each to advance the developments of a specific product in their specialist area of healthcare.

In the Assistive Technology category, consultant clinical scientist Gareth Adkins was selected as the winner. Gareth works as the Head of Rehabilitation Engineering at Morriston Hospital in Swansea and his team was awarded the funding to develop an Electromyography (EMG) stand alone switch to improve user experience, accessibility and independence.

An EMG or muscle action switch enables severely disabled users to independently control their environment or access communication with tiny muscle actions, sometimes their only reliable movement. Usually these switches require powerful computers but this project intends to create a switch that can work independently of other equipment.

Gareth said: “We are delighted. The unique group we have brought together includes medical electronics specialists, rehabilitation engineers and designers from the National Centre for Product Design and Development Research (PDR) Medical Applications Group at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

“The group were keen to enter the competition as we saw it as a great opportunity to use a multi-disciplinary approach for the design and development of a device that would improve the lives of disabled individuals.”

In the Renal Technologies category funding was awarded to Consultant Nephrologist, Dr Nicholas Fardon and Dr Prashant Verma alongside teams from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. They will work on the development of a simple battery powered ultrasound scanner optimised for viewing fistulae (expanded veins used for wide bore kidney dialysis needles).

Two solutions were offered, the first to modify a scanner that is currently used in the veterinary field; the second is to evaluate the use of transillumination. The team will work with the Sheffield Kidney Institute to compare the two potential solutions.

The technology that shows the greatest promise will be modified as required and trialled by specialist dialysis nurses. Feedback from the trials will be used to finalise the design of the prototype device. With proof of concept, it is hoped that an industrial partner will be found to commercialise the real-time fistula localisation device.

The winners will have the opportunity to work with D4D and gain access to the D4D national expert networks, resources and specialist clinicians throughout the process.

New online marketplace to create Assistive Technologies

REALISE is a new website that aims to radically change the lives of people struggling to use the internet, computers and mobile technology. Providing an online collaborative workspace, REALISE is a website where anybody can positively impact lives.

REALISE, the next evolution in collaborative working, will be launched at two events, RaATE in Coventry on 28th November and the KT-Equal event ‘Taming the Dragon; making technology work for us‘ in Chelmsford on 29th November. RaATE is the only UK conference focused on the latest innovations of Assistive Technology and the KT-Equal events focus on innovation for older people.

REALISE works by inviting anyone to submit ideas on how to make technology easier to use for all. These ideas are then openly discussed, helping to gain a consensus and move to an ‘incubation’ stage . In the incubation stage a lead group or individual can attempt to establish a fully fledged assistive technology project.

Projects developed so far include ATbar, a toolbar that can be added to any website allowing text to be read out loud, and forms to be spell checked for mistakes.

Project REALISE was developed through JISC funding awarded to the Universities of Southampton and Sheffield and will now continue to develop with the National Healthcare Technology Co-operative, Devices for Dignity (D4D).

REALISE will support some of the most innovative projects through the next steps of their development. Commercial companies and researchers are invited to become involved in open project development at any time.

Senior Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, Dr Peter Cudd said: “REALISE facilitates the development of software that ensures online equality. We hope the launch of this exciting online workspace at RaATe and KT-Equal will inspire individuals and companies to join us in this exciting endeavour.”

D4D Clinical Director Wendy Tindale wins prestigious award

Professor Wendy Tindale has been announced as the winner of the 2011 Beacon Award for Outstanding Contribution to Healthcare, at the Medilink Healthcare Business Awards 2011, which celebrate healthcare excellence in the region.

The awards took place at the Medilink Innovation Reception and Healthcare Business Awards, on the 9th of November at the York Railway Museum.

In addition to 5 other awards for regional organisations covering areas such as Innovation and Partnership with the NHS, Professor Tindale was honoured with this years coveted ‘Beacon Award’ – acknowledging her lifetime dedication to healthcare and career of impressive accomplishments.

Consultant Clinical Scientist and Scientific Director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH), Professor Tindale is also Clinical Director of Devices for Dignity – the organisation set up to drive forward innovative new products, processes and services to help people with debilitating conditions to deal with their daily challenges.

Based at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Professor Tindale has worked within the health service in Sheffield for over 25 years, in that time contributing extensively to converting medical and technological innovations into front line patient care.

Speaking about the awards, Medilink’s Managing Director, Kevin Kiely, said: “Yorkshire and Humber boasts an abundance of innovative companies within its health technologies sector, so honouring the foremost achievers allows us to reflect on the talent we have here today, which will drive the healthcare breakthroughs of tomorrow.”

D4D shows design for life

Devices for Dignity (D4D), recently joined health professionals, inventors and academics with a design for life, at a new conference and exhibition called Design 4 Health (D4H).

Among the delegates at D4H, which was based at Sheffield Hallam University, were Andrew Slorance, a man who has designed his own ‘Carbon Black’ wheelchair.

D4D is supporting Mr Slorance in getting the extremely lightweight carbon chair to market, and took part in a series of interviews with the BBC, who have been filming the development of Carbon black.

Organisers said the conference and accompanying exhibition showcased the need for health professionals to embrace new design techniques to address stigmas of ageing and disability.

Design 4 Health also brought together health practitioners and researchers to address how design can rise to the challenges of an ageing population.

To support this process D4D delivered an in depth two hour presentation that included audience engagement, focussing on key D4D thematic areas such as Assistive Technology, Urinary Continence Management and Renal Technology.

Professor Wendy Tindale, D4Ds Clinical Director – who presented at the event said:

“D4D has a central goal of delivering technology solutions to support people with long term conditions and ensuring they preserve dignity and independence where possible; the D4H event provided the ideal place for all the people involved in the design of products in the field to come together and look at new solutions to support this goal.”

Our picture shows Professor Tindale with Andrew Slorance, being filmed by the BBC.

For more information on Design for Health visit: http://www.design4health.org.uk

Urinary Catheter Survey

Devices for Dignity is pleased to let you know about an online patient study for people using long-term, supra-pubic and intermittent self-catheters.

We are aiming to improve the design of urinary catheters to improve comfort and reduce infections or blockage. Your help in completing this questionnaire will help us decide on the most important areas that need action. We would be grateful if you could complete this anonymous questionnaire which should take no longer than 5 minutes. All your answers will be kept anonymous and taking part is entirely voluntary.

If you would like to take part in this study, please visit the following link, which will take you direct to the online survey:


Please be assured that the Devices for Dignity Healthcare Technology Cooperative never gives any contact or personal details to any company or organisation.

You can help us to influence the development of new products and treatments, and help improve services that may in turn improve the quality of life for millions of people in the UK.

Thank you for your time and support.

New D4D report provides hope for communication

The lives of people who find communication difficult are to be dramatically improved following a report published by Devices for Dignity (D4D), into Voice Output Communications Aids (VOCAs).

The free to access report, whose development was led by Barnsley Hospital and NHS Sheffield as part of a D4D consortium, is designed to improve the development of new technologies and stimulate further research in the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) field.

Simon Judge of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Gillian Townend of NHS Sheffield authored the report which found that not being able to effectively communicate can be deeply frustrating and detrimental to people’s lives but that VOCAs provide them with a voice, improving their quality of life.

VOCAs are part of AAC – extra ways of helping people who find it difficult to communicate by speech or writing.

D4D felt that users had not been given a voice regarding the effectiveness of their devices and in response to the lack of previous research, D4D, a national Health Technology Cooperative, commissioned the two-year project to investigate user requirements, future improvements and areas for future research.

The report has already led to a number of companies speaking to D4D on how it can be implemented in their technologies.

Toby Churchill, a leading company in the AAC field, have already started using the report to shape their own product developments.

David Mason, MD of the company, said: “I found the D4D AAC report to be a comprehensive study that is valuable to Toby Churchill Ltd as we seek to develop and improve our products, and the whole user experience of our AAC devices. The report has encouraged us to seek to do further work with D4D, which we hope will commence soon.”

The report has also inspired D4D to engage users in the design process because the feedback given by users indentified a number of shortcomings of existing devices, such as slowed communication when using communication devices causing deep frustration.

User involvement will help to make the devices more reliable, durable, portable, and simple to use and encourage more successful use in a context that is wider than a single place such as at home or in school.

In order to assist the collection of data for the report, D4D – who are hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, also designed a decision support tool as part of the consideration, trials, selection, provision and review processes resulting in more informed choice and narrowing the gap between current tools available to AAC professionals to and potential users.

Devices for Dignity (D4D), hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is a Healthcare Technology Cooperative which drives forward innovative new products, processes and services to help people with debilitating conditions preserve their dignity and independence. It is a national resource.

The DALLAS programme delivering assisted living lifestyles at scale

The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £18 million over four years to show how new technologies and innovative services can help support independent living for older people and people living with long-term conditions, and improve their quality of life.

The DALLAS programme – Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale – will establish up to 5 sites across the UK with a minimum of 10,000 users per site and will show how assisted living technologies and services can be used to promote well-being and provide top quality health and care, enabling people to live independently. The programme will also help to grow the sector in the UK and help British companies to take advantage of increasing global demand for assisted living.

Download the full press release here: http://tinyurl.com/3kwn3vc

New Smart Underwear for incontinence pad users

We are looking for female volunteers over the age of 18 years, who wear a pad for urinary incontinence to test some new ‘Smart underwear’.

The underwear has been designed to help individuals manage their incontinence by alerting them if their pad has leaked.

Your participation would provide us with essential feedback on how the device worked for you and whether you found it helpful.

This research is being conducted by the BioMed centre at Southmead Hospital.

You will receive a £25 voucher as compensation for your time.

For further information, or to take part in the study, please contact: Maryann Slack (study nurse) at the BioMed Centre, Southmead Hospital, Bristol. On 0117 3235188 or maryann.slack@nbt.nhs.uk.

This research has been reviewed and given favourable opinion by Southmead Research Ethics Committee (reference number: 10/H0102/12