By the end of 2022, 66% of households in the G7 will have a smart speaker or a similar voice enabled device. According to Deloitte, the use of social media by people over 55 in the UK has tripled since 2012 and smart-phone ownership by the same age bracket has doubled.
We can choose to respond to this in two ways. We could simply use these technological advances to support our current way of working by for example, streamlining work processes, or we could embrace the opportunity to enable innovation and creativity.
Technology has the potential to unlock huge benefits, but it must be regarded as a tool for transformation to exploit its full potential. The challenge for all of us all across healthcare and housing is how to make technology a catalyst for true integration and improvement of wellbeing rather than a simple bolt-on with limited impact.
Let me be clear, technology cannot and should not replace human support, it should be an enhancement of our humanity and release time where possible to provide care and improve safety of services. Technology needs to be looked as an enabler to change and should not be used in isolation without any change management or a focus on why we are using a certain piece of technology. An isolated approach is unlikely to succeed.
At Home Group, we are currently assessing a range of assistive technologies, including products, equipment and systems that support our customers to maintain or improve their independence, health and wellbeing.
We’re looking for those technologies that will enable us to design and build better homes, and provide support in a way that promotes independence for those living in them. To support this work, we have engaged and collaborated widely. In particular, we have entered into a ground-breaking academic partnership with Northumbria University, who have a strong focus on innovation, technology and digital disruption.
Working with the University, we are scoping the assistive technologies that exist, and will soon exist, to inform the development of our homes and service design. We’re creating a framework for research and development activity and knowledge transfer between Home Group and the University. This will ultimately turn into recommendations to inform the assistive technology strategy for our care and support services.
We are also a key partner in the development of South Seaham Garden Village in County Durham, a 1,500 home development including various supported accommodation schemes where we plan to trial and assess a range of assistive and digital technologies. This provides a further opportunity to work with our customers, their families and representatives as well as leading higher education partners and the National Centre for Ageing.
Our overriding principles are simple. We need to use technology to deliver smart homes and communities that are human centred and always remember to empower inhabitants rather than organisations.
It’s going to be an exciting journey- and this is just the beginning.