A Caring Place Blog: Blackwood Homes – by Colin Foskett

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Creating a Caring Place: A&DS has published a report which sets out the work that we have been coordinating, together with Scotland’s Towns Partnership, to respond and support the Scottish Government’s work around Town Centre Living. We have identified 10 Principles of a Caring Place which places user needs at the heart of decision-making, service provision and investment in our places.

Principle 5 looks at Design for Re-purposing and Integrating Technology. Transform failing spaces and buildings by considering opportunities for re-use and repurposing, and developing intelligent systems that optimise the use of latent space and services. This is achieved by adaptive and innovative repair and retrofitting of vacant properties. Design support for technology-based wellbeing and care services supported by integrated systems, accessible and easy to use home-based solutions, adaptable infrastructure and local skills.

In this blog, Colin Foskett, Head of Innovation at Blackwood Homes and Care writes about ease of accessibility and promoting independent living.

Innovative Interface

Colin Foskett: 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 as well as health & wellbeing information, entertainment, local information, as well as all the usual online services like news, weather, online communities & social media. Our “family and friends app” allows one-touch video calling to family and friends but 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 allowing 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, 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 a ‘S’ shaped core housing the bathroom and kitchen, the layout is designed to maximise circulation space with flexibility in mind, with pocket doors and underfloor heating creating barrier free movement.

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

CleverCogs digital systems 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 at home and night 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 with support 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 plan 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 allowing us to detect falls not just in the home but in outdoor areas as well as epileptic seizures. We are working closely with the innovation centres and universities on sensors, robotics, energy as well as new models of care. We are building more of the Blackwood House – becoming a standard for accessible, social housing




Image caption: Blackwood tenant Mandy mastering CleverCogs – she uses the video call function to keep in touch with her sister who lives too far away to visit regularly.

Image Credit: Blackwood


(Updated May 2019)


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