[Skip to content]

Print this page

Service description    

The Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT) service provides environmental control systems and alternative means of computer access for persons with complex disabilities. The service covers all of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire areas, except Bassetlaw.  

Environmental control systems enable persons with complex disabilities to have control over a range of appliances installed around their home. Using their most reliable method of access (e.g. direct touch, switches, voice activation, eye gaze), users operate a central controller which generally outputs infrared, but can sometimes also utilise radio frequency codes, to access a range of peripheral devices. Many users present with some of the most complex physical disabilities, with perhaps only one reliable movement. However, an environmental control system enables them to independently carry out a variety of activities. 

In general these systems can offer access to the following areas of function: 

  • Leisure: Devices such as a television, sound systems, Hi-Fis, computer access etc.                 

  • Communication: intercom systems, hands-free telephones. A number of controllers are also able to output speech, either through access to a number of phrases or an accessible keyboard, for those with communication difficulties.                 

  • Comfort: radio controlled radiator valves, infrared light switches, control of the position of a chair or bed, curtain and blind control, and mains operation for devices such as lamps, fans, or heaters.                 

  • Security: pagers or call alarms, remote access to door openers, door release mechanisms.     

In addition to providing a degree of independence for the user, these systems can also provide support for the family or carers as they are no longer solely responsible for ensuring the comfort of the patient. In some instances it can give additional confidence to enable a carer to leave the house for short periods of time without having to worry, as if anything happens the person at home can seek help immediately.  

Ways to refer to us

Referrals can be made by post, or by email (dhft.EAT@nhs.net). Please note, referrals should only be sent via email from secure email addresses (e.g. nhs.net accounts).

We accept referrals from any Allied Health Professional, GP, Consultant or Social Services contact. Currently there is no referral form available, as it is still awaiting approval. In the meantime please refer via written letter, giving details of:

  • Referrer's name, occupation and contact details

  • Patient's name, diagnosis, DOB, NHS number, Hospital number, address, telephone number, preferred contact and next of kin

  • Reason for referral

  • Brief clinical history

  • Environmental Controls / Computer Access objectives

  • Contact details for any social workers, OTs, SLTs or other relevant professionals working with the patient.  

Choose and book?

 This service is not available on Choose and Book

 Rapid access?

Not applicable

Direct access?

GPs should refer by letter

The following criteria is taken from our service contract with NHS England. This inclusion / exclusion criteria also applies to computer access provision.

Environmental Controls provision will be for people who meet the following criteria:  

  • Profound and potentially complex physical disability, such that they are unable to operate standard controls for functioning independently in the home.   
  • Cognitively and physically able to operate EC equipment consistently.   
  • Able to demonstrate sustained motivation to use the EC equipment.   
  • Individuals requiring multiple control functions integrated into a single means of access and for whom multiple devices, each with separate function are inappropriate.   

 Where individuals have a variable condition (eg: a progressive neurological condition), the above criteria can be applied with regard to the person’s anticipated  needs and abilities within a clinically appropriate time period. Referrals can be accepted on this basis.  

Exclusion Criteria (for equipment provision by the service):                  

  • Where non-specialist solutions to the identified needs of the patient are available and appropriate for the individual.   
  • The individual patient does not have the cognitive ability or motivation to learn to operate the EC equipment. This shall normally be established though a period of trial of some sample solution of equipment.   
  • Provision of equipment is inappropriate due to social, environmental or other circumstances.   
  • Where the referred need is for equipment primarily for educational ICT or, employment ‘access to work’ requirement, then the referral will normally be referred to the relevant agencies for assessment and provision.  Collaboration with these agencies may still be appropriate.  


Scope of equipment provided

Certain aspects of the potential provision are outside the funding remit of the Electronic Assistive Technology service and require referral for funding and provision by other agencies. These include:  

Any equipment that affects the fabric of the building, and would otherwise typically be funded through application to other funding sources, such as Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) or minor adaptation, including;

  • Door, window and curtain openers (including replacement door locking mechanisms)
  • Building adaptations
  • Electrical, joinery, carpentry or other minor adaptation  


Equipment for monitoring and health needs:

  • Telecare equipment
  • Tele-health equipment
  • Tele-rehab equipment  


Other equipment

  • Page turners  

Main enquiry contacts 

Email: dhft.eat@nhs.net

Telephone: 01332 254 980 


Electronic Assistive Technology, 

London Road Community Hospital, 

London Road Derby DE1 2QY

Name: Leo Whiteman

Job title: Clinical Scientist

Name: Joy Brough

Job title: Occupational Therapist

Name: Jessica Cohen

Job title: Pathway Co-ordinator