Going Digital: Utilising smart technology at home

Jeremy Porteus blog 2020
Jeremy Porteus
Chief Executive, Housing Learning Improvement Network

In both our personal and professional lives, we are bombarded with information to keep up with the digital revolution and to get the latest smart device that will transform our lives etc. Often it seems that failure to do so risks social or workplace extinction.

In April this year, we partnered with ADASS and the Local Government Association to create a new portal, Going Digital: Living better for less with technology enabled housing’.

These pages are packed with a compilation of key resources. They inform those working in housing, social care and public health on how technology can improve both your organisation’s efficiency and the health, wellbeing and happiness of your tenants, residents or service users at home.

For example:

  • Telehealth monitoring of vital signs to support the self-management of long term conditions and reduce the number of GP or outpatient hospital appointments
  • Smartphone App medication management to help remind vulnerable people to take their medicines and keep track of what they have taken
  • Personalised home safety technology that facilitates independent living – such as cooking hobs that turn off if no cooking pan is detected.

Half a generation since the dawn of the digital age, the range of potential benefits for both residents/tenants and the providers of health and social care and housing services seem to be growing almost daily. And, in a historically risk-averse sector, technology can promote greater independence, choice and self-determination.

"It’s important to look at the digital infrastructure as a utility like power or water"

However, it’s important to look at the digital infrastructure as a utility like power or water. And just as you would think carefully and strategically about investment in the delivery of power or water to your facilities, so you should make sure you get the digital infrastructure right.

Increasingly, organisations will develop digital strategies or roadmaps to ensure an integrated, efficient approach and ensure sound investment decisions. This avoids the risk of swift obsolescence – one of the curses of our days. As one of our digital pages puts it: “It is important to address this (the risk of obsolescence) so you can recoup the capital expenditure and demonstrate value.”

Public sector commissioners and housing and care sector operators - despite their tight budgets - need to invest in the right “plumbing/architecture” and ensure that they are building technology-enabled housing for the future.

Tempting though it may be, ignoring the digital revolution is not really an option. Across the housing with care and related sectors, there are at least three key drivers ensuring that ignorance is most certainly not bliss. These include local authorities’ role in ‘market-shaping’ which emphasises the need for ‘care-ready housing that provides a better offer to customers.

To coincide with the CIH annual conference and exhibition next week in Manchester, the Housing LIN is partnering with Tunstall to host two roundtable events on the issues outlined above. In particular, we will be exploring:

  • Does your organisation have a technology enabled housing digital roadmap or strategy to transform your services?
  • What operational areas are you focusing on to meet your business objectives?
  • What do you see as the key organisational benefits of a technology enabled housing system?
  • What do you see as the key customer benefits of a technology enabled housing system?

Watch out for reports on the deliberations at those encounters. The latest chapter in the digital revolution will most certainly be written up.


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