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A new suite of apps is helping vulnerable adults and individuals with special educational needs and disabilities to adapt their lives to meet the challenges posed by coronavirus.

First published:
12 February 2021
Last updated:

With Welsh Government support, the 'COVID-19: Staying Safe' apps have been created to help adults with additional requirements to become accustomed to face coverings, social distancing and health and wellbeing so that they can live independently in a safer environment.

The apps, which are unique in being able to be customised for each individual user’s needs, have been created by tech start-up Starfish Labs, which is based at AberInnovation, Welsh Government-backed Innovation Centre located at Aberystwyth University.

Welsh Government has provided more than £60,000 towards the development of the apps through its rapid response COVID-19 RD&I scheme.

Neil Bevan, Starfish Labs director, said:

“Most guidance on the pandemic is not in an accessible format for people with learning difficulties. The ongoing changes in lockdown rules and guidance are confusing for many people. The apps allow carers to use photos and videos of the user’s own masks, wash basin, hand sanitisers and local environment to make the rules much more relevant and understandable for the user.

“We’re proud to be developing the apps in Welsh, as well as English, to support vulnerable people in our communities in their own language.

The 'COVID-19: Staying Safe' apps are part of a number of innovative projects Welsh Government has been co-funding to help people adapt to the challenges posed by coronavirus.

Welsh businesses have responded remarkably to calls to help keep Wales safe and, in partnership with Welsh Government, their efforts have seen a number of products and services introduced.

Cwmbran-based medtech firm Airquee Ltd has received support from Welsh Government to modify and increase production of the AerosolShield device.

The pop-up protective tent is can be deployed in seconds to cover a patient’s head and shoulders, and is already helping shield Welsh NHS staff and carers from COVID-19 and other infections.

Celtic Wellbeing Ltd in Conwy has also developed a natural antibacterial solid soap as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to either gels or liquid soap solutions that require plastic packaging.

With more than £23,000 in Welsh Government support, Celtic Wellbeing is using oils and plant extracts with known antiviral qualities to boost effectiveness.

These three projects are part of a number of innovative products and services Welsh Government has support with £5 million worth of funding support.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said:

“These projects are crucial in helping our people deal with coronavirus and I am pleased the Welsh Government has been able to support them.

“Businesses across Wales have really stepped up since the beginning of the pandemic and these projects clearly demonstrate that.

“We are committed to keeping Wales safe and these brilliant products and services are just some of those being developed to ensure that.

“I would like to thank the entire business community in Wales for the way it has adapted and the resilience it has shown during this incredibly difficult past year.