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Technology enabled care in housing – it’s for all ages

Blog by Graeme Hamilton, TECH Engagement Officer.

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Often when we mention technology enabled care in housing, many people think it’s about putting monitors and pull cords inside homes to provide re-assurance to older people and allow them a contact route when they need assistance. And yet, those of us working closely with that know it’s so much more, and it’s there to benefit people of all ages and digital experience.

When I worked for a large housing association, our focus was on working with partners to help our tenants develop the essential digital skills to be able to access the internet at home for social inclusion, business efficiency and personal engagement reasons. In the three years since I have moved on into a wider housing and care world, it is clear that the growth of robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors and the Internet of Things, and other sectors looking at how they can use digital technology, is exponentially changing the way we live, work, communicate and develop as a society. And that means that younger people are thinking and developing tech to suit their home lifestyles too.

In the coming weeks, we will focus on TECH being used by different housing associations across Scotland. Why not send us your stories, too, this is all about collaboration and sharing and helping each other. And whilst you are online, why not take five minutes to sign up to the TECH charter pledging to help the sector support the use of technology enabled care across all of our tenants. https://techousing.co.uk/sign-up/

Just a few years ago, I remember visiting a sheltered housing development where the residents had just got a couple of tablets and public internet access. Sharing the tablets meant there was a restriction on what the residents could do (data protection), but I remember an elderly gentleman being very emotional when he described making contact on facetime with his relatives in Australia – people he hadn’t seen for years. We can only imagine the wellbeing and positive boost that this would have given him. And yet, so many of us take that that technology for granted, not realising that for around 40% of social housing tenants in Scotland, home access to the internet is still not standard.

We know that Blackwood has given every resident of its care homes a personal tablet and internet access. It has supported them through a couple of digital coaches and has invested in staff digital training, too. Blackwood’s Clever Cogs, its digitally enhanced care system, is about more than just internet provision, and we will hear more about it in a future blog about the support that service provides.

During the summer, I watched a cute little robot from Edinburgh University School of robotics ‘engage’ with tenants, and it’s just the start of that world. We know robots are performing surgery more effectively than humans, and we hear of the robot vacuum cleaners and robot pets. Each offer something different but appeal to people of all ages and can be life improving, too.

Finally for this blog, I just want to mention sensors and how the data and connections provide peace of mind to families of citizens with different additional needs, from the child with severe epilepsy, to the person with dementia or MND we can track, contact, note and develop an understanding of patterns of change in behaviour and action, and, in doing so, be more pro-active in the support we all provide – whether we work in housing, care or health – and that can only lead to improved collaboration between us all, with our tenants right at the heart.

Want to know more?   

Get in touch with me graeme.hamilton1@ntlworld.com

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