Promoting independent living at Blackwood Homes

A carer shows a disabled woman from Blackwood Homes how to use a tablet.
Published: 13/05/2019

We are building a conversation around the ten principles of a caring place. In this blog Colin Foskett, Head of Innovation at Blackwood Homes and Care, writes about ease of accessibility and promoting independent living. This relates to principle five: design for re-purposing and integrating technology.

Innovative interface

The main innovation combines an easy to use interface to the digital world, with devices and services that are tailored to the individual's care and support needs. Individuals can access common safety features like alarms. They can also get health and wellbeing information, local information, entertainment, news, weather, online communities and social media.

Our "family and friends app" allows one-touch video calling to family and friends. It also allows family members to check on care and support visits that have occurred.

CleverCogs also gives our care and support staff live up to date rotas, care notes, preferences and instructions. Our staff app allows an instant flow of information and easy communication within care teams.

In an emergency, a customer is immediately connected via video call to a member of our care staff. This allows the staff member to assess the situation and respond as required.

Interactive homes

How does the CleverCogs technology support adaptation and flexibility of physical space?

CleverCogs interacts with the customer's home. At the touch of a button CleverCogs can lower and raise blinds, turn lights on and off, and open and close doors and windows. CleverCogs and the Blackwood House have been designed with each in mind. As technology progresses, CleverCogs is flexible enough to link with any adaptations made to a customer’s home.

The Blackwood House was designed to be beautiful, accessible, affordable and connected. Built around an ‘S’-shaped core, which houses the bathroom and kitchen, the layout is designed to maximise circulation space with flexibility in mind. It has pocket doors and underfloor heating that create barrier-free movement.

How transferable is the technology and adaptation to people living in their own homes?

At Blackwood we believe that creating an ease of accessibility and promoting independence within one's home is the future of care and housing. We use the technology in many of our care support service in customer's homes, many of whom are not Blackwood tenants. The system is designed to be tablet based, so any Blackwood customer can use it.

Independent living

What other types of support and programmes does Blackwood offer associated with housing and care?

We offer care at homes and housing support services as well as residential care services. Via CleverCogs we also offer a night support service giving customers the independence of living within their own home. Support is available at the touch of a button rather than a sleepover.

What are Blackwoods plans for the future?

We are currently working with the University of Edinburgh, Datalab, and a number of other partners to develop an alerting system based on smart meter technology. The energy usage data will show patterns of daily living. Any changes to patterns of daily living or acute events can trigger an alert to family members or carers through CleverCogs. By basing the alert system on existing smart meter technology we hope to reduce the use of intrusive sensors within the home.

Blackwood plans to develop CleverCogs further to incorporate voice assistant and AI technology. The flexibility of the CleverCogs platform enables us to link to devices like smart watches. This allows us to detect epileptic seizures, as well as falls inside the home and in outdoor areas.

We are working closely with the innovation centres and universities on sensors, robotics, energy, and new models of care. We are building more of the Blackwood House, becoming a standard for accessible, social housing

About the author

Colin Foskett is the Head of Innovation at Blackwood Homes and Care. The charity provides a range of accessible, modern, attractive and bespoke housing aimed at providing great value to people with a range of disabilities and housing needs.

Header image credit: Blackwood

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