Contact&Connect automated telephony service

Contact & Connect Community Loan Recall

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Tracking and restocking community loan equipment is complicated and costly. Whilst many of the larger items are returned once they are no longer needed, thousands of smaller items never come back into the system – at significant cost to the council and their health and care partners. In parallel, many people continue to use reablement or rehabilitation aids when their needs have changed or when the equipment has been improved or simply needs replacing – a situation councils are unsighted on often until people hit crisis point.


Around 50% of all equipment loaned by Sunderland to support reablement or rehabilitation is not returned; this equates to around 25,000 items pa. The cost of unreturned items for Sunderland alone, is in excess of £1.5 million pa. Of course thousands of these items will still be needed for both short and long term support, but many will not be being used and others will no longer be required. With 100 people being loaned new equipment every week and the added complexity of single use or multiple item loans, Sunderland has worked as part of a council collaboration to deploy automated telephony to support the tracking, recovery and refurbishment of community loan equipment.

Having co-designed a short, clear set of questions, the automated telephony service Contact&Connect will keep in touch with service users on a quarterly basis. And when they feel their equipment can be returned – or if it needs replacing – the system will alert the relevant team.

Sunderland is expecting at least a 10% increase in returned items. This equates to over 2,200 pieces of equipment coming back into the service every year – which can be refurbished, harvested and/or loaned back out to other service users – at a financial saving of £150,000 pa.


  • Hard to keep track of all items – particularly the smaller ones
  • Lack of resource to follow up on equipment loans
  • Significant, growing, cost to council
  • Need to consolidate the recall process across numerous equipment prescribers


  • Support the ‘ongoing conversation’ with the client around their changing needs
  • Crisis prevention
  • Improved quality of service
  • Making better use of assets
  • More pieces of equipment coming back into the system for cleaning, refurbishment, harvesting
  • Improved turnover of equipment
  • Decrease in budget for new equipment


“Contact&Connect had instant appeal, it is a quick and easy solution that hits our demographic. We are able to communicate with people at scale with a very straightforward set of questions. Immediately people really engaged, and as a result we are having really rich conversations with the customers who respond to the telephony approach and ask us for further support. The return rate that we’ve got in terms of equipment is really positive and the benefits around being able to prevent people from finding themselves in more difficult situations have been huge.”

Emma Anderson, Occupational Therapy Service Manager – Sunderland City Council

Co-designed in partnership with Sunderland City Council