Learning disability charity Hft is trialing a new assistive technology device that will help people with learning disabilities live more independently.

The 12-week trial involves three people with learning disabilities supported by Hft at one of its services using a device that tracks their movements. Being Alert, which was developed by Being, the trading arm of community interest company ATcare, uses RFID (radio frequency identification technology) to provide a means for people to maintain their independence as far as possible, while also leading an active life.

It is based on technology that is widely used in clinical settings, but it is the first time that it will be used by people with learning disabilities. Individuals wear a lightweight device – which can be in the form of a bracelet, or belt or clothing attachment – that alerts support staff via receivers when the wearer is about to move from a lower to a higher risk area. Receivers, sited at the boundaries of high risk areas, such as main roads, are programmed with the particular transmitter IDs of each user. If an alarm is triggered by an individual moving towards or into a higher risk area, an alert can be sent to staff via a message warning on a pager. Before this was set up, Hft gained agreement from individuals and their families and support workers about its use, and also prepared people for the trial. This included explaining how the devices worked, and developing a routine with each person around ensuring they wear or carry the device.