North West Regional College's health innovation hub to aid independent living

ictured at the launch of the Design Assisted Living Centre at North West Regional College are Dr Aaron Peace CEO, CTRIC, Leo Murphy, chief executive and principal NWRC, Geraldine Lavery, department head of health and sports at NWRC, Sarah Travers, MC, Vonnie McWilliams, DIAL centre manager, and Geraldine Grieve, RNIB. (Picture Martin McKeown).
ictured at the launch of the Design Assisted Living Centre at North West Regional College are Dr Aaron Peace CEO, CTRIC, Leo Murphy, chief executive and principal NWRC, Geraldine Lavery, department head of health and sports at NWRC, Sarah Travers, MC, Vonnie McWilliams, DIAL centre manager, and Geraldine Grieve, RNIB. (Picture Martin McKeown).

North West Regional College this week officially launched a unique Health Innovation Hub that will promote innovative solutions to support living well independently.

The Design Innovation Assisted Living Centre (DIAL), the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is uniquely situated in the heart of NWRC’s Strand Road Campus, providing a space where Education, Business, and the Health and Social Care sector can work hand in hand.

Members of the local business community, healthcare sector, joined college staff and students at the college’s Derry campus this week for the DIAL centre’s official opening.

MC for the event Sarah Travers, who lost her dad Ian to an aggressive form of dementia in 2013 said: “The new DIAL centre is a fantastic opportunity to improve the lives of those with life limiting or degenerative conditions allowing people to stay at home for longer whilst also providing the best training possible for social care students and encouraging those pursuing a career in technical innovation the opportunity to design and develop adaptive technologies that really work.

“At a time when all budgets are stretched this is a wonderful example of joined up thinking that will really benefit society.”

DIAL has been developed by the college in partnership with the Department for the Economy and Connected NI.

The state-of-the-art facility is also home to NWRC’s Academy of Enhanced Care and Clinical Skills providing flexible and bespoke learning for the professional workforce, informal carers, and the community.

The opening of DIAL comes with the news that NWRC has been designated as the Health; Social Care;Curriculum Hub; for the Further Education sector in Northern Ireland. As the leadership College for NI, NWRC will lead the HSC sector in curriculum development for Health & Social Care from level 1 to 5.

With a high spec home simulation centre, DIAL will operate as a demonstration centre for solutions to support independence, ranging from specialised equipment, e-health, and smart bespoke digital including Alexa and Eye Gaze.

It also contains a dissemination and conference facility with leading edge video/audio capture technology, external live streaming capability, product demonstrations and regional learning networks DIAL also offers advice clinics for clients, carers and businesses, as well as live modelling of design guidelines, standards and principles (e.g. design for dementia).

Geraldine Lavery, Department Head of Health and Social Care at NWRC, said the DIAL centre will make a significant impact to the lives of local people and their carers who are facing the challenge of living independently at home.

“DIAL is a health innovation hub with a focus to promote collaboration, learning and innovation so that improved practice models and solutions are developed that will support independence and a quality of life for greater numbers of people to live well at home,” she said.

Leo Murphy, principal and chief executive of North West Regional College said the DIAL Centre is a welcome addition to the Strand Road estate as the college continues to lead the way in fostering innovation and technology in a fast paced digital world.

“DIAL has been developed in partnership with the Department for the Economy and offers a facility fully equipped with the most advanced facilities and latest technology.”