The Housing Executive is using a range of smart home technology to improve the quality of life for tenants in Derry.
A £30,000 ‘Assisted Living’ pilot scheme has been launched in partnership with the Health and Social Care Trust Occupational Therapy Service and Hive Studios.
The scheme is the first of its kind in the UK. It aims to improve flexibility, mobility, social interaction and security for a pilot group of 18 households with elderly, disabled or vulnerable tenants.
The partnership have deployed a range of fully customisable, broadband-enabled ‘smart devices’ to each of the scheme’s participants.
Among the technology used in the scheme is voice and video-enabled Amazon Echo for communication and control of smart devices, including lighting, power sockets systems, thermostat and monitoring devices for the benefit of the lederly living alone.
Kevin Hippsley, Manager of Hive Studios, said they are delighted to be partnering with the Housing Executive for the scheme.
“Assistive Technology is rapidly advancing and Hive and the Housing Executive are at the forefront of innovating smart home solutions designed to help those with a variety of complex needs.”
Karen Telford Head Community Occupational Therapist, Community OT Department, said the scheme was an ‘exciting opportunity’ for service users.
“The Assisted Living pilot is an exciting opportunity to explore how service users could realise their potential through the latest innovative technology to control their home environment thereby maximising their full participation in day to day activities.”
Kathryn Trainor, Adaptations Manager, The Housing Executive said: “Historically the Housing Executive has offered a variety of services to its tenants with disabilities, therefore it is delighted to embrace the current technical innovations and to be involved in the Assisted Living technology pilot.”
Tenant Melissa Keenan, who has an Autistic son, said the project has been ‘worthwhile’ for her family.
“This has been a really exciting and worthwhile project to be involved in. We can now monitor our entire home and ensure the safety and well-being of my Autistic son Adam.
“Adam’s bedroom has also been equipped with sensory responsive lighting and he has his own Echo Spot which he loves. It’s great to see the Housing Executive partnering with local businesses to offer innovative services like this to the community.”
Another tenant, Mark Gamble who has mobility issues, described the scheme as a ‘godsend’.
He said it has reduced his sense of isolation and increased his independence.