Simon Herdsfield, head of customer services for Herefordshire Housing Group describes how new thinking around care and support using technology-enabled care services (TECS) has come to life in Hereford.
Henffordd Gardens is one of the group’s newest enhanced living schemes, and is a perfect example of the ways we are working to implement our philosophy of supporting good physical and mental health, helping people to enjoy rich and fulfilling lives and creating communities that people feel safe in, feel inspired by and want to contribute to.
The scheme is a multi-use city centre development comprising 30 apartments and one three-bed re-ablement unit, with on-site concierge and support teams. However, what makes it different is that we have firmly embedded TECS into the personalised support we offer residents. Not only are some aspects of technology physically hardwired into the building, but more importantly, TECS is firmly entrenched into the culture. It’s central to how we’ve created a people-centric, community-based system of care.
So what does that mean in practice? Well, in terms of the technology, we’ve worked with Tunstall to ensure we’re at the forefront of technology, including the Communicall Vi platform which means staff receive relevant information at their fingertips, enabling them to prioritise care delivery. This includes a tablet-based dashboard which shows the status of residents at a glance, an ultrafast communications system which allows staff to communicate with residents and each other, and provides a platform for telecare solutions. All residents have the means to request help if they need it 24 hours a day, using their personal pendants or speech modules. Support packages may include other sensors such as fall detectors or bed occupancy sensors which will raise an alert if the user leaves their bed and fails to return after a pre-set time period.
Henffordd Gardens was also one of the first schemes in the country to have an information kiosk in its communal area, which gives all residents free internet access. The kiosk enables residents to report a repair, check their rent balance and shop online in a secure online environment and with the support of staff if required. The scheme also features a digital notice board; a large wall mounted screen in the communal area providing all the latest news, weather and information about social events relating to Henffordd Gardens. Residents can also use myworld, a range of tailored apps on a tablet which enables users to view, request and schedule appointments such as care visits, order meals, find out about social events and send and receive messages and emails.
We believe that Henffordd Gardens has shown that it is possible to create a sustainable model of personalised care which supports mental and physical needs, and enables people to live life to the full. It moves TECS solutions from an abstract concept to a warm and welcoming home which helps people to feel safe, cared for and confident.
Henfford Gardens is just the start. We continue to work with Tunstall to develop new approaches to care solutions which provide an alternative to more traditional and costly care pathways and focus on enabling service users to maintain their independence. Tunstall’s latest innovation, Communicall ViIP, gives residents a state-of-the-art touchscreen phone which not only acts as a hub for on and offsite communications, but also supports the use of apps which can be tailored to the provider’s and user’s needs. It also has the option to provide broadband, telephony and wi-fi direct to residents in a cost effective way.
The ‘art of the possible’ has changed enormously during my time working in the housing sector, and the speed of change is accelerating. Only by working in partnership can housing providers ensure that they are aware of everything the latest technology has to offer the people we support, enabling us to make the right choices, and ensuring that our legacy is homes fit for the future.
Simon Herdsfield is head of customer services at Herefordshire Housing Group.