Residents at a Scarborough care home are among the first in the country to have their homes fitted with a suite of smart technology designed to make independent living easier, thanks to a trial from BT and one of the country’s biggest housing associations.
A pilot scheme launched by BT and Home Group, has seen the apartments of 12 residents at Scarborough’s Webb Ellis Court site, equipped with a range of smart sensors providing data on activities to provide improved safety support.
Webb Ellis Court is a community wellbeing scheme specifically designed to maximise independence for people over the age of 55.
Residents who volunteered to take part in the trial have given their consent for specialists to fit the sensors in their homes, which allow staff on site to better tailor the support they are offered.
The sensors are linked to electrical appliances like TVs, kettles and fridges using smart plugs, as well as fitted to key access points across homes including doors.
The technology is supporting residents’ safety by logging each time equipment is used, or when parts of the home have been accessed – allowing unusual patterns to be noticed by on site staff in real-time.
Data is used to help map the routines of residents and automatically identify changes which could indicate illness or injury and allow for carers to make early interventions to allow residents to live more comfortably and remain independent for longer.
Devices forming part of the suite include motion sensors, smart plugs and door sensors. The system will link to a specialised app to display the data directly to authorised carers or loved ones.
The developments could ease pressure on key services like the NHS by allowing residents to live independently for longer, providing medical support before health issues escalate and reducing hospital admissions.
Webb Ellis Court customer, Joe Bracchi, said: “This is a really interesting pilot, and I’m looking forward to the assistance it can offer.
“It’s strange that I won’t see it working as it’s not something you can watch, but I know it is there working for me. It will be reassuring that it can monitor my activity, or lack of it, and offer support if I need it.
“I take real comfort knowing that if I strayed from my routine staff on site would know and could support me if needed.”
Professor Sultan Mahmud, Healthcare Director for BT’s Enterprise unit, said: “Technology has the power to make independent living easier for people, whilst also allowing loved ones to know their nearest and dearest are safe.
“This trial allows us to demonstrate just how much impact some small interventions can make on the lives of those living in supported accommodation, and the potential reductions in the costs of care and the pressure on the NHS.
“Technology has already transformed the way we live our lives and the deployment of new technology like this can help take how we care for people to the next level.”
The technology trial is running for six months with the aim of identifying how proactive interventions can cut risk and improve comfort for those living in supported accommodation.
The trial with Home Group is closely linked to BT’s development of Connected Health solutions – a key commitment outlined in its Charter for customers, including health and social care organisations, and designed to lead to more positive outcomes for both patients and staff working in the industry.