Environmental Control Service for North Thames (RECES)

Covering North London, Hertfordshire and Essex

The North Thames Regional Environmental Control Equipment Service (RECES) provides electronic assistive technology to severely disabled people to enable them to live more independently at home.

Dates for your diary

Hacking For Solutions

Intense two-day virtual reality workshop
Brunel University London
4-5 July, 2018. Details and place reservations.

Reces Annual Seminar

Hillingdon Hospital Education Centre
Friday 5 October, 2018. Invitation letter


team of people

The North Thames Regional Environmental Control Equipment Service (NTRECES) held its 23rd Annual Seminar of the service on Friday, 20 October 2017 at the Hillingdon Hospital Education Centre.

The event is largely attended by commissioners, social services OTs, Speech and Language Therapists and specialist environmental control equipment suppliers. There were nearly 100 attendees and the day was the team's most successful event to date.

Professor Rajiv Hanspal, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, who was the service founder in 1994 and who retired in 2011, attended the day and was impressed with how the service has developed.

NTRECES provides electronic equipment so individuals with significant physical disabilities can control appliances within their own homes and call for help. The service is funded by NHS England Specialised Commissioning. The new national service specification includes help with access to computers and smart devices.

The team is based on the Alderbourne Rehabilitation Unit but our remit covers the whole of the North London, Hertfordshire and Essex regions.

What is an Environmental Control System?

This is electronic equipment which enables remote control of appliances at home by an easy access controller for those with very limited hand or other functional movement, where standard controls are not suitable.  This may arise from a medical condition such as Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Cord Injury, Cerebral Palsy or severe Arthritis.

Environmental control functions can include;

  • Call for carer assistance or emergency help
  • Door entry intercom and access
  • Loudspeaking hands-free telephone
  • Television, DVD and other media devices
  • Lighting and ‘plug-in’ electrical appliances
  • Computer control and special access methods

"I can do things myself and not rely on others. It keeps my sanity!"
(Jonathan – Possum Vivo! user).

What are the benefits?

To increase independence for the user and allow them to remain at home unattended, confident that it is secure and help can be contacted if needed. It can enhance quality of life within the home setting, help maintain the integrity of family life and reduce reliance on others and the need for institutional care.

Who is suitable for Environmental Controls?

Environmental Control equipment is provided to people of any age satisfying the following criteria:

  • Have a long term and substantial disability caused by disease, injury or congenital condition.
  • Have the necessary abilities and motivation to operate the equipment satisfactorily.
  • Able to operate the equipment independently.
  • Where other, simpler or more cost effective solutions are not suitable.

Who pays for the equipment and service?

The equipment is provided on a ‘free of charge’ loan basis to an individual for their use, usually at their place of residence. Full training is given to the user and others involved. Also funded is a service & maintenance contract with the supplier to cover equipment problems. Additional functions and adjustments can be made to suit an individual’s changing needs and circumstances.

Funding for equipment is limited and priority of provision is given to those with a rapidly deteriorating condition, who live on their own, are at risk, and those with a long term substantial need. Separate funding must be obtained for equipment in nursing homes and for ancillary equipment such as door, window or curtain openers.

How do I request assessment of Environmental Control Needs?

RECES covers North Thames including London, Hertfordshire & Essex. Depending on the client's GP address, the referral will be processed at either Hillingdon or Harold Wood.

A referral form needs to be completed, usually by a health care professional (eg: occupational therapist, speech therapist or GP). The user's GP is also asked to complete a separate form to endorse the referral and provide additional information. You can request this referral to be made on your behalf.

NB: E-Referrals can only be accepted from an NHS.net address

Computer access

Computer access devices allow people who have problems using conventional controls (eg. keyboards or mice) to access the computer. Adaptations to assist with computer access can include the following:
  • Alternative keyboards eg. alternative keyboard layout
  • Alternative mice eg. a trackball, joystick or touchpad, head tracking or eye gaze
  • Additional accessibility software, eg. on-screen keyboards, word prediction, speech recognition

    The computer can also be adapted in a number of ways using ‘in built’ accessibility settings. The My Computer My Way website from AbilityNet covers a range of options, for example filtering key presses or changing the mouse pointer.


    Computer access provision is part of environmental control and appropriate for those who meet the referral acceptance criteria for the EC service. Please see the Eligibility Criteria for further information.

    Support Groups and Other Useful Links

    Other environmental assistive technology services

    Equipment suppliers on NHS contract

    Frequently asked questions

    • How can I be referred to the service for an assessment?
    • How long do I have to wait for the assessment?
    • Where and how does the assessment take place?
    • How long do I have to wait for the equipment to be installed?
    • How much does the equipment cost?
    • Is it difficult to operate the equipment?
    • How long does it take to install the equipment?
    • What if I change my television or want to add more functions?
    • Do I have to look after the equipment?
    • What if I move address, can I take the equipment with me?


  • Environmental Control Equipment

    North London & Herts
    Alderbourne Rehab Unit,
    Hillingdon Hospital,
    Pield Heath Road,
    Uxbridge UB8 3NN
    Tel: 01895 279158
    Fax: 01895 279737
    Email: thh-tr.RECES@nhs.net

    Environmental Control Equipment

    Essex & Outer N.E. London
    Environmental Control Service
    Long Term Conditions Centre
    The Drive, Harold Wood,
    Romford RM3 0AR
    Tel: 01708 384908
    Fax: 01708 796201
    Email: nem-tr.recesharoldwood@nhs.net