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Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Hackathon

Liverpool hosted the UK’s first Hacking Health Hackathon, with the theme ‘Mental Health and Learning Disabilities’. Mersey Care Communications Officer, Faye Sefton attended the event.

Hackathon events by Hacking Health have been held all across the world, so we were honoured that they were happy for us to get involved and support them in holding their first ever UK Hackathon in Liverpool and with a mental health theme.

Hacking Health is a social organisation that aims to transform healthcare, through connecting healthcare professionals with technical innovators to build realistic, human-centric solutions to front-line healthcare challenges.

The weekend long event hosted by Liverpool University brought together designers, engineers, developers and students to entrepreneurs, healthcare staff, and patient and service-user groups. Teams worked together to come up with solutions to challenges, then presented their ideas to a judging panel of industry experts. Some went on to win awards for the prototypes and solutions they’d showcased.

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Consultant Psychiatrist from Mersey Care and judging panel member Dr. Cecil Kullu said: “We saw really good ideas that we believe will help both health and social workers to deliver the services they provide more effectively and efficiently, and we hope to support some of these concepts further to fruition via our European Regional Development Fund.”

Six challenges were presented over the three-day event. Mersey Care’s Dementia Lead Jill Pendleton headed the award winning Persteption team . Mersey Care Governor Hilary Tetlow headed up the ‘Drink Me’ team, and I took great pride in being project manager for the ‘Reflect’ Team.

Jill said: “It was a privilege to take part in the event and meet a variety of forward-thinking individuals who want to do their bit to improve the way our healthcare sector operates. I was particularly impressed with the high-level of the responses presented to the challenges put forward, given the short timeframe. It goes to show how pioneering these highly engaging and creative environments can be, and we’re hoping to replicate an event like this in the near future.”

Find out more about the challenges put forward during the event and the final solutions pitched, by reading the short descriptions below:

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Children of Prisoners - Most likely to succeed and People’s choice awards winner

The number of children affected by parental imprisonment is growing at an alarming rate, with an estimated 200-250,000 children in the UK affected and these children have a higher risk of developing mental health problems. This solution focused on creating a mobile app for the children of prisoners so that they can access advice, information and get peer support.

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Drink Me - NHS Health Impact Award winner

It’s difficult to ensure that those living with dementia are eating and drinking enough, with the elderly in particular at risk of dehydration. This response looked at developing a smart digital drinks coaster to remind and encourage those with dementia to drink at regular intervals.

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Persteption - NHS Choice Award for Mental Health winner

Dementia can create problems for some with judging distances, which can lead to falls and injury by misjudging the proximity of objects as well as the boundary of steps, stairs and pavements. A smart walking stick prototype was created to enable those affected to negotiate their environment easier.

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Reflect - Hacking Health Choice Award winner

Mental Health stigma and the attitudes of others can stop those with problems getting the help/support they need. This solution focused on the creation of a mobile app aimed at re-educating students on mental health problems and sharing people’s experiences to help others empathise.

Technology in Languages

Miscommunication in the healthcare sector can be life-threatening. The rising number of people who are accessing services from other countries and cultures and staff to whom English is not their first language means that communication errors are becoming more likely. This response looked at creating a mobile app to help assist those speaking a different /second language to use in clinical settings.

The Internet of Things

People living with Bipolar disorder often experience changing moods and energy and activity levels. One moment you could feel energetic and full of life, and the next, you feel hopeless and depressed. A smart shoe insole prototype was made to help track patient activity and overall health activity (heart rate) etc to provide themselves, clinicians or carers information that may help to identify changes in mood and inform interventions .

For more information please contact the communications team, by emailing communications@merseycare.nhs.uk