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Housing Scotland Magazine Winter 2020 featured add

Is TECH really for me?

Blog by Graeme Hamilton, TECH Engagement Officer.

Is TECH really for me? Since the start of this year, when we increased our engagement with housing associations and council housing departments across the country, that’s one of the questions people would ask. Is this not about care? Don’t you need to talk to our social work department or with health and care partners? And then, when we get into the detail, usually over a cup of tea, the light bulbs switch on, and people realise that care in, and around, the home needs the housing professional both at its heart and also driving the agenda, if we are to get the best for those who live in our homes.

If we can minimise the turnover of houses by small scale and inexpensive adaptations; if we can reassure the family of elderly or infirm tenants by the careful siting of sensors, floor pressure pads, voice-activated blinds, or even a tablet with Facetime or another similar one to one connection, then we will be maintaining our communities, with those tenants able to remain at the heart of their known circle for just a little longer. Business benefits, relationships and social inclusion continue to flourish, and people maintain a sense of well-being that very often diminishes when removed from everything they know and are comfortable with. We reduce the total costs to society with less time in hospital or institutions, upheaval, social isolation and disengagement.

Last week, my colleague, Geraldine Begg, (Technology Enabled Care in Housing (TECH) Programme Co-ordinator), mentioned some of the latest signatories to the TECH Charter. I’ve been chatting with a number, too, and many are refining their submission and pledges. Milnbank Housing Association said it saw a strategic link with the digital participation charter it signed in 2018 in helping their tenants to maintain strong digitally supported tenancies. Dunbritton Housing Association will share its plans at the upcoming CIH Scottish Housing Festival in March. Our message is spreading right across the country, with Perth and Kinross and Scottish Borders Housing Association both signing up this week.

I spoke at a digital update conference in Edinburgh last week, two years since it was last run. In the audience were just a couple of housing/local authority colleagues, but I have no doubt the work to put simple, yet very effective technology in social rented homes all across the country was hugely well received, not least from occupational therapists, performance managers and service design leads who all reflected on what a bonus this would be for tenants and the public sector in general. A fellow speaker was from People First Scotland, an organisation that champions the rights of disabled people to be able to live more independently and for society to ensure that we put accessibility first in all our thinking and doing. Together, Gregor and I were coming to the same conclusion but from different angles.

So, what are your plans to make a difference within your communities? To make a pledge and sign the Technology Enabled Care in Housing Charter? Was your Chair at SFHA’s conference last weekend? Be prepared for them coming back to ask what your organisation is doing and when you will be signing. Drop me a email, and I will happily pop out and chat to you, or give me a call, if that’s easier. Equally, you can just go straight to the website and sign the charter right now.

Till next week.

To find out more about TEC in Housing, the charter and how to sign up go to https://techousing.co.uk  

For more information, please contact Geraldine Begg gbegg@sfha.co.uk or Graeme Hamilton graeme.hamilton1@ntlworld.com    

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