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Innovative online health and wellbeing support receives Challenge Fund backing

13 Sep 2018

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An innovative online virtual coaching tool, which uses artificial intelligence to help people to improve their resilience and remain in work, has been chosen to receive funding as part of the new Work and Health Challenge Fund.

The MyWellbeing@Work resource is being developed by Remploy, the UK’s leading disability, employment and skills specialist in partnership with Royal Society for Public Health and Social Finance.

It uses a chatbot to support individuals with the self-management of their mental health or musculoskeletal issues, utilising coaching techniques to build resilience and independence.  The chatbot can then refer on to specialist support and services, with any technical questions answered by a specialist online advisor.

The project will provide insight into how best to digitally reach those most at risk of falling out of employment due to their mental health or musculoskeletal condition and will particularly focus on the small changes individuals can make to their lifestyle to improve their own health and wellbeing.

Gareth Parry, Remploy Chief Executive said: “We’re excited to be working in partnership to pilot this innovative approach to improving resilience and wellbeing for individuals at risk of unemployment. We hope that by utilising artificial intelligence technology, participants will be able to make health and wellbeing choices that improve their ability to retain employment, and at the same time develop valuable evidence of effective interventions.”

The Work and Health Challenge Fund aims to test potential solutions which help people with disabilities and health conditions to stay in work. MyWellbeing@Work is one of 19 initiatives across the UK selected to receive funding from the joint Work and Health Unit, set up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

Kiran Kenth, Director of National and Regional Programmes from the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “We are delighted to be working with Remploy on this initiative.  Employers are ideally placed and have a valuable role to play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff; the unique MyWellbeing@Work approach of using advice and support from a combination of chatbots and specialist support is innovative and has huge potential to enhance the overall health and wellbeing of employees who may have issues around mental health or musculoskeletal conditions, which in turn could improve productivity and reduce absenteeism. We would hope that this pilot could become an invaluable public mental health workplace programme.”

Adam Swersky, Director at Social Finance, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Remploy on this innovative effort to help people better manage their health issues and remain in work. Social Finance has been working for over five years to help people with health conditions and disabilities to be in fulfilling employment. We’ve been missing a trick by not using technology to get better health and work outcomes for people in a scalable, cost-efficient way. This pilot can help us understand how to harness innovation to complement face-to-face support.”

For more information, please click on the following links to news stories: Challenge Fund launch, or Challenge Fund providers announced.

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