A social worker who first started having epileptic seizures at the age of 36 has had her life transformed by a pioneering digital watch.
When Jennifer Clough, from Beech Hill, started to have Tonic Clonic Seizures, they were having a hugely negative impact on her life, until she came across the pioneering Embrace Watch which would improve her life more than she ever imagined.
Jennifer was diagnosed with Epilepsy in December 2017, the Tonic Clonic Seizures she was having were affecting her entire brain. In 1997 Jennifer started her career with the council as an apprentice and has since worked in a number of different services across the organisation, working with people with disabilities and sensory impairments and also working closely with the community. She now works at Brookfield as a shift leader supporting adults with a range of mental health difficulties.
In the lead up to her first seizure she’d had no warning signs as to what she was about to go through. Jennifer explained: “I had a week off work in May, and on the Sunday morning I got up to let my dogs out as normal at 6am. I remember letting the dogs out and I also remember locking the back door. And after that I just remember coming round in my kitchen and seeing green pants, which were the paramedics. “I had no warning signs, no triggers, nothing.” From this Jennifer was taken to A&E and continued to have several tests over the coming months under her specialist.
Whilst working at Brookfield it had a huge impact on her work life but also her social life. Jennifer said: “At first, before my seizures were diagnosed as Epilepsy, it was difficult as I wasn’t allowed to work alone, in case I had a seizure, which I totally understood. “It had an impact on things I took for granted, such as going to meetings outside of my base. I had to constantly phone people to let them know where I was, from setting off, when I was on my way, it was constant having to check in with people. I weren’t even able to have a bath on my own.”
One day at work Jennifer and her colleague visited the digital bungalow at Ancliffe, where they were looking at potential supportive equipment for their service users. This was when Jennifer came across the Embrace watch. From this day Jennifer was put forward to trial the wristband alongside one other resident in the borough. The People Powered Technology team at Wigan Council is one of the first within a local authority to work with Empatica, who are an American medical and research team.
With Jennifer’s consent the PPT team are now able to analysing her data to make advances in looking at physiological changes within the body, to ultimately try and predict when a person is about to have an episode. This would give people like Jennifer a chance to prepare their selves and make sure they are in a safe space when needed. The watch is linked to an app on her phone and it picks up continuous vibration or movement for 20 seconds or longer. The band will then flashed red, which will give Jennifer 15 seconds to cancel it off if it’s a false alert, which she can do by simply tapping the watch.
Jennifer has three care givers set up on her app, which she can turn on and off, depending on whom she is with. Her care givers don’t need to have the app and they will still receive an alert.
If an alert is triggered the app will automatically phone her care givers until they answer the phone. It will then ping a location through a GPS tracker to them so they can pinpoint exactly where she is.
Jennifer has had the watch for a month now and it has already improved her life considerably. She explained: “The wristband has been a huge weight lifted of my shoulders. “I am now able to support staff and also service users in the way that I used to, I can go out on visits on my own. I have my independence back. “I no longer have restrictions on my life and feel like I am being checked on 24-7. “The wristband will tell my friends and family if something is wrong. If not I can just live my life.”
Stuart Cowley, director for adult social care at Wigan Council, said: “I am thrilled that such a simple yet genius idea has had such a positive impact on Jennifer’s life. “She is a true ambassador for the council and is a shining example of what can be achieved through embracing new technologies.”
For more information on the digital bungalow at Ancliffe please email [email protected].