RESIDENTS with learning disabilities have been taking part in a £15,000 pilot project which aims to make them less dependent on carers.

Blackburn with Darwen Council has spent the cash on independent living aids and electronic devices for 33 residents, after identifying people who would benefit from the programme.

The devices include memory books, GPS systems, panic buttons and falls detectors to help them cope better on their own.

The project could also produce cost savings, or at least allow the council to use resources more efficiently, as carers will be freed up to spend more time with people who need more support.

Bosses stressed that residents taking part in the pilot, such as 37-year-old Ibrar Riaz, had been chosen because they would benefit from more independence.

Ibrar, who lives in Acrefield, has been using an electronic memory book, which gives him step-by-step instructions on how to do a variety of household chores from making a sandwich, boiling milk on a hob and washing and drying his clothes.

He said: “I get up in the morning and from eating my breakfast I use it and it tells me how to do things. There’s pictures of everything and then you press the button and it reads out the instructions.

“It really helps me to do things on my own. I use it everywhere and it makes things easier for me. Sometimes the staff help me out but mostly I can do it on my own.”

He has also tried out a GPS system that allows people to go outside independently but provides a warning signal to carers if they stray too far outside a comfortable boundary.

Whilst he is just starting with this technology his carers hope that in future Ibrar will be able to go into the town centre with the aid of the system and go shopping on his own, as he loves to pick out all his own clothes and manage his own finances.

The technology is supplied by companies such as Tynetec, Tunstall Solutions and BAM Labs.

Coun Mohammed Khan, the council’s cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “These advancements are really helping people like Ibrar enjoy a real peace of mind and help them to enjoy their lives .”