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RIX Centre secures NHS backing to provide social support for vulnerable people isolated by Covid-19

Students working on computer

Suite of apps provides social and support networking

The RIX Centre at the University of East London has secured funding to provide a suite of digital apps which can help people with learning disabilities face the challenges of isolation as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The research and development centre is being supported through TechForce 19, an NHS initiative to deploy tech innovations to help vulnerable people who are staying in, social distancing and self-isolating because of the pandemic. The RIX software offer is one of just 18 innovations selected by the programme from 1,643 applicants.

The RIX Multi-Me toolkit offers a secure and easy-to-use online support platform with features for multimedia blogs and messaging, goal-setting tools and health checks, all aimed at supporting people to stay within their own homes and maintain the support they need to keep safe and manage their mental and physical wellbeing.

At the heart of the toolkit sits the RIX Wiki, a simple personal website where users can store and share audio, video, photos and easy-read text to assist with their communication and self-advocacy. 

Professor Andy Minnion MBE, director of RIX Research & Media, said, “We’re very pleased to have secured this award to press ahead with the adaptation and delivery of this powerful suite of mini-apps that can make a significant difference to people who are especially vulnerable to the impact of Covid-19.

“The RIX Multi Me toolkit provides accessible and secure social networking that serves as a support network for people with learning disabilities and other complex support needs. These tools can facilitate remote support for people who normally depend on their day care provision to connect with professionals and peers for support to stay safe and well in the community.

“We are already seeing the toolkit enabling isolated and distanced people to build stronger support circles. It can help them self-manage their care and gain support where needed to actively limit the impact and spread of Covid-19. This will reduce the pressure and workload for vital health and social-care staff teams and their organisations.”

Professor Verity Brown, pro-vice chancellor (impact and innovation) said, “We’re pleased and proud that NHSX has recognised the benefits of this digital tool from the RIX Centre.

“It’s right that the massive frontline NHS operation to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic is in the forefront of people’s minds. But there is a group of vulnerable people who are also greatly suffering as a result of the lockdown. RIX Wiki is a simple but effective way of ensuring that those people with disabilities who live in the community can continue to do so safely, while maintaining the vital social and support links that are so important.

“Our Royal Docks campus is right next door to NHS Nightingale at ExCeL London and we’re providing volunteers and logistic support in the fight against Covid-19. In its own way and for its users, this technology is just as important and shows that the University continues to press to find new ways to help our community at this difficult time.”

The RIX Centre will now work with social care providers in a rapid two-week trial funded by The TechForce 19 initiative to assess the system’s impact. If successful, the toolkit will be made available at scale nationally, supported by NHSX, the National Health Service’s digital transformation unit.

See also:

Digital innovations tested to support vulnerable people during Covid-19

18 winners of TechForce19 challenge announced - digital solutions supporting vulnerable or isolated during the coronavirus