The Health and Social Care Board in Northern Ireland is leading a €5.5m European project to help people live independently through the use of technology.

The 'Beyond Silos' project, partly funded by the European Comission, aims to support people to stay at home for longer, and spans across Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany.

Its main focus is providing IT and technology to join up health and social care services and giving care teams access to patient records, as well as supporting older people with acute and long-term conditions.

 In Northern Ireland, which received €857,000 in funding, the project will build on the country’s already existing telemonitoring service, its electronic care record system and single assessment tool.

Health Minister Edwin Poots said that the joint European project will enable Northern Ireland to share knowledge and experiences with other regions.

“The Beyond Silos project will enable a number of our existing health and social care services to be more closely interlinked, leading to better communication,  better co-ordination and a smoother care pathway for members of Northern Ireland’s older population,” he said.

“Improving the integration of services in this way is key to the delivery of the patient-centred model of care which lies at the core of our healthcare transformation agenda.”

Northern Ireland’s telemonitoring project, which aims to help 20,000 people with long-term conditions manage their own health, will be further developed through the funding.

The telemonitoring service, provided by by TF3 – a consortium made up of Tunstall Healthcare, Fold Housing Association and S3 Group – in conjunction with the five Health and Social Care Trusts, involves patients taking vital sign measurements at home, which are automatically transmitted to the Tf3 system, where they are monitored by a triage team.

If the patient’s readings cause concern, a nurse will contact the patient by phone and if necessary the patient’s clinician will be alerted.

To date, more than 2000 patients use the service, but this number is likely to increase as the project moves forward.

Sean Donaghy, Regional Director of eHealth and external collaboration at the Health and Social Care Board said the project will help the country meet the “challenges presented by demographic change and aeging populations.

“This is the next step in our journey to better co-ordinate health and social care for older people in Northern Ireland and build services with a lasting positive impact,” he said.

“The demand for more integrated care has been growing steadily over the past few years, not only here but in other European regions as well and we look forward to working with our partners to address this.”