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ATEL’s CEO uses his own disability to help the UK to embrace assistive technology


One of the UK’s leading assistive technology provider’s CEO is using his own personal experience to change theruralblog_3781 way assistive technology is delivered to those with a disability. 

Following a car accident at the age of 24, which saw Matthew lose both his legs and suffer 3rd degree burns to 65% of his body, he soon found that there was little in the way of expert guidance as to how to piece his life back together. Little information was available as to how to get the best from a home environment to help facilitate Matthew getting as close to his life pre-accident.

With time on his hands – Matthew spent over a year in hospital following the car accident – he set about designing his own home and looking for technology that would help him on his road to recovery. Matthew soon found that the design of his home played a crucial part in how the technology worked and how it could be adapted over time as his needs changed. Using his experience and knowledge, he’s already been able to help property developers maximise potential of specialist supported housing.

Matthew comments: “In the two years ATEL has been operational, we’ve been able to change how specialist supported housing is developed by offering out our expertise and getting involved from the planning stage to make sure the right infrastructure is in from the start.

“We’re seeing a demand for ‘homes for life’ within the sector. Individuals require a home that can easily adapt as and when their needs change, which is often the case with disabilities. A change in the thought process as to how these homes are built can make a huge difference as no one wants to have to retrofit or have clunky pieces of technology taking up valuable space, instead, putting structure and cabling in place at the start is a lifesaver down the line.

“The same can be said for the personal injury cases we’ve been involved with. Already architects and builders have thought differently about how they design and build properties. Small but effective tweaks can make a significant impact as to how the property works for an individual now and in the future, and having gone through the process myself, I generally know what works and doesn’t work.”

Committed to changing not only the design and build of properties, Matthew is also passionate about assistive technology and how it has a central role in helping individuals. Having experienced first-hand how people with a disability can be treated, often in an undignified manor, Matthew knew more needed to be done.

Matthew says: “At the time of my accident, there was little in the way of technology that would provide anyone with similar injuries any dignity or provide a platform to be able to carry out tasks for themselves. It would take another 10 years before I was able to find a product that would be a starting point for developing a basket of technologies that would work cohesively to help individuals with disabilities.”

Having found the product he was looking for in GrandCare, Matthew set about forming ATEL, drawing on his knowledge and experience to form a company with a difference. Waving goodbye to what is considered the norm within the industry, including reactive technology, the company has instead focused on an all-round holistic approach to each individual person.

Matthew continues: “Ever since my accident, I’ve wanted to find ways to use technology to aid people who desperately needed people to stand up and make them count. GrandCare very much does this and now acts as a central hub in which we’re able to plug in a multitude of other technology solutions, making sure they all work together to deliver on our promise to empower individuals to be able to complete everyday tasks.”

It is what sets Matthew and ATEL apart from other assistive technology providers. “Our person centric approach has meant we’ve moved on from traditional fall detectors and access controls, and instead moved to preventative and proactive technology.

A key example of how effective GrandCare can be is the scheduling system. It can be used to prompt for individuals to take medication or a reminder to have lunch. It can help to teach individuals with a learning disability to cook, with a video upload function so they can watch themselves making a meal and follow the step by step process. Link it in with a Pen Friend which speaks instructions as to what each ingredient is and what to do with it, it means that individual is able to cook a meal where they weren’t able to before.”

Matthew and ATEL’s aim over the course of the next year is to continue to educate local authorities, as well as private individuals with disabilities that there is now another option to choose from, one which can positively impact the lives of the people who use the technology.

Matthew’s new approach to assistive technology also has implications on a wider scale for local authorities. Matthew explains: “The simple fact is that our approach helps to drive cost efficiencies through a reduction in the human care package. Our team works with individuals over time to install technology that might allow them to close the blinds for themselves or make a cup of tea. Simple but effective technology such as U-drain means a carer doesn’t have to come in four times a night to change a urostomy bag. We have over 150 different pieces of technology we can pick from and over the course of a contract, we can save tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds for local authorities, through a tailored approach to proactive technology”

The future of technology enabled care is shifting, with acknowledgement finally being given to the opportunities it presents, as long as providers are able to deliver on the promise that they will help to prevent and proactively manage conditions, something which ATEL is able to deliver, all thanks to Matthew’s own experience.


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