January 21, 2019

Innovation and creative disruption come hand in hand with technology, from the invention of the wheel to the iPhone changing the way we communicate. This was further reinforced recently by the largest annual consumer electronic event in the world showcasing flying taxi’s, breathalysers for diabetics, roll up TV’s, home robots for older people linked to smart assistance devices, and exoskeletons to name but a few — what appears whacky or of limited value this year often become invaluable, ubiquitous ‘must haves’ next year.

For many of us it wasn’t that long ago that if we’d never heard of virtual reality (VR), we’d probably link it to hallucinations, drugs, rock and roll or at a push, gaming and entertainment. Now it’s core to powerful immersive training, engaging some or all of our five senses. e.g. Cornerstone Partnership enables you to be a child experiencing childhood trauma and their life in and after being in care. Alzheimer’s Research UK’s ‘A Walk-Through Dementia’ – puts you in the shoes of someone with dementia. Also, Excedrin is using VR to share the experience of what it’s like for people with migraine - blurry vision and flashing lights that often lead to nausea.

VR also offers quality, life enhancing experiences for people with limited mobility or nearing the end of their life, ‘visiting’ places they never thought they would see again. For those of us with fears, phobias and social difficulties they provide safe controlled environments in which to be ‘exposed to’, explore and then manage or overcome the difficulty e.g. University of Oxford has developed a VR programme in which psychological therapy is delivered by a computer-generated virtual coach. Treatment is personalised, with users able to interact with the virtual coach using voice recognition technology.

Innovation and creative disruption results in the re-imagination of everyday products – think of Dyson, Uber, Tesla, AirBnB, and F1 pit stop methodology being applied to life and death hospital situations.

So why is innovation and creative disruption under developed within social care? “Lack of money”. “Bureaucracy”. “A silo mentality”. “Inertia”. “Too much work, not enough workers”. “In ability to translate pilots into sustainable activity”. “Inflexible/restrictive frameworks, commissioning and or procurement”. “Politics – large and small”. “Protectionism, ego’s, fear”. “Risk aversion” — in the fast-paced, under-funded industry we work in, it's often that technological advances and disruption have to come second to service provision.

But what if I was to tell you a different story, grounded in hundreds of years of varied experience. Where the major protagonists are at the centre, controlling and directing their personal stories, making choices from diverse, vibrant environments, feeling connected and an included part of a tribe that offers immediate help and support. A story in which personal and financial evidence and transparency are themes throughout and hitherto, hard to fulfil requirements are achieved/ achievable. Where other tribes put differences aside and worked together to create a truly innovative, creatively disruptive situation – a game changer – Younifi.