Investing In Our Future - Maximising Your Future
How we spent your donations in 2020-2021
2020-2021 has been a very productive year for the small team at DLF, despite everything COVID threw at us. In addition to the day-to-day, updating of product information, advice and guidance for both the public and professionals through Living Made Easy, AskSARA and the DLF for Professionals programme along with training hundreds of trusted assessors across the UK, we have undertaken a number of major donations-funded developments in the last 12 months, designed to significantly improve the delivery of our information, advice and training programmes. A number of these large projects were funded by donations income, and in total we spent over two hundred thousand pounds to transform and improve our main services in an intensive period of innovation.
Listening To You
The developments and innovations have been based on evidence and feedback from both beneficiaries and practitioners. We still have some projects on our wish list, but 2020/21 has certainly been a significant year of change at the DLF.
Research indicated that a new approach was needed so between April & June last year we ran an online survey, through our Living Made Easy and AskSARA sites, to capture visitor opinion and information about the users and what they were looking for. This survey provided us with over one thousand three hundred detailed responses. Feedback from the Helpline, from analysis of traffic to our websites and the responses from the surveys were combined, analysed and distilled to provide the basis of a plan to reorganise and simplify both the AskSARA online self-assessment tool and the Living Made Easy website. It became apparent from our research that visitors could not always easily find the information that they were looking for, so a totally new approach to navigating and presenting the information was needed.
A New AskSARA
After several months of technical development involving both redesigning the underlying systems and the presentation of the platform itself, we were delighted in April 2020 to be able to re-launch AskSARA, with a streamlined look specifically designed to be suitable for use on mobiles, allowing people to get to the right products with fewer clicks.
New information and advice topics are constantly being added to AskSARA and as a result of the systems improvements this process is now much faster. We have recently added a new raft of dementia-related questions and advice, pulling a number of useful products into this area of our information and advice.
The relaunch of AskSARA also involved all our licensed customised AskSARAs. Many of these versions include extra useful signposting information about services and support programmes running in their area. We currently have a number of licensed AskSARAs which can be seen on our AskSARA Selector Page. If your local health and social care provider isn’t listed then ask them why not?
Living Made Easy, Europe's largest marketplace
DLF ProAssist - unique prescribing hub
One Single Site - One Public Brand
But the biggest investment in time and money (and grey cells!) has been the consolidation of several different DLF websites into one. Now all the DLF’s resources can be accessed through the relaunched and redesigned LivingMadeEasy.org.uk domain. Here you can reach AskSARA, Youreable, our online community, as well as all the 10,000 aids to daily living held in our growing database. The main navigation has been simplified to use a single intuitive ‘megamenu’, reducing the clicks to find suitable products and their retailers and removing the need for visitors to know what the categories cover. It is here that professionals can also access the services we provide to help them support older and disabled people to live independently under our new ‘DLF for Professionals’ programme.
With the relaunch of LivingMadeEasy.org.uk we also introduced a group of new features including Your Story, Our Picks and Hints & Tips and our factsheets have been turned into advice on choosing suitable products.
“Your Story” is new person-centred feature. Here we highlight the ways assistive technology and aids to daily living are allowing people to carry on doing the things they love, adding life to years!
“Our Picks” will allow us to provide an opportunity for different curators to provide their picks from our extensive range of products. Watch out of new and popular products as well as themed groups.
“Hints & Tips” does exactly what it says on the tin, offering hints and tips around a themed activity or task to make living easier, highlighting products for all sorts of daily activities.
High Quality Professional Tools
In March 2021 we launched a brand-new professional prescribing tool, DLF ProAssist. The donations-funded development of professional access to our database was also based on extensive research and feedback with intended users. We have adopted cutting-edge thinking, using international ISO classification standards based on functional needs as part of this development and we are working with a number of bodies to collate the best evidence and research to support clinical selection. Respondents told us that they were in the habit of prescribing familiar products or solutions known to colleagues and found searching using Google search resulted in the need for work to analyse and summarise what they found. We are sharing details of our innovative menu structure internationally through our membership of the Eastin global body of providers of information on AT products.
Using ProAssist enables prescribers to produce a variety of outputs using templates and to review documented evidence as well as product specifications. OTs, trusted assessors and other independent living professionals are set to benefit from this brilliant new tool.
Online Training and Webinars for Professionals
Prior to the pandemic, the DLF had been researching and developing a new online learning management system. This foresight allowed us to rapidly develop and innovate to ensure that we were able to train and gain accreditations for hundreds of newly qualified trusted assessors who could then be part of the solution to enabling faster hospital discharge and faster adaptation of home settings when residents’ needs changed despite the onset of COVID 19.
Donated funds covered the set-up cost of this new DLF for Professionals Learning Portal and its introduction in April 2020 provided students with an enhanced remote online learning experience. The new platform enabled a variety of training methods including online class-based learning, use of videos to demonstrate acquired techniques and access to materials at a time to suit the learner and their workload. In addition to the core learning and teaching elements it also offers learners the opportunity to share experiences of their studies, creating an engaged professional learning community.
Coming Soon a New Vendor Portal
The management of the product listings in our huge product and retailer database has also been reviewed and redesigned. We are on the cusp of launching a new self-service portal for retailers of AT products. This will provide our data services team with a new way to on-board organisations and their products and streamline the data entry and updating. This project has required a considerable redevelopment of the underlying database to provide future-proof architecture, allowing us to deliver across both Living Made Easy, AskSARA and DLF ProAssist, ensuring that the right information is available in the right format for the right audience.
Please Support DLF
DLF derives its income from a variety of sources including from licensing the advice we provide and providing training for professionals. We do not take payments from manufacturers and retailers to include their products in our information and this helps us maintain our impartiality.
Our day to day work involves us working with manufactures, retailers, industry bodies, regulatory organisations, health, social care and housing providers, charities, OTs and a wide range of independent living professionals. We work hard to provide the most accurate, unbiased and easily accessible information and advice on assistive technology solutions to help inform the public and professionals about aids and adaptations for daily living. But we cannot do this without the help and support of our benefactors, large and small.
If you have supported us in any way, then we thank you. If you value our work and you would like to support now or in the future, then thank you. For information on how to donate or remember us in your will please Get Involved
In memory of Petula, a valued team member, lost to COVID in March 2020.