Nigel Ebden, Market Development Manager at Secure, sheds light on how the social landlords has used technology during the COVID-19 crisis.
In recent years, Secure has sponsored Smart Social Housing, a series of property-technology events examining a range of topics, including innovation in independent living.
This year, we decided to move our scheduled events online, and when it came to choosing a theme for the three webinars, there was only one: How have social landlords used technology during the COVID-19 crisis?
How do you deliver home care for the vulnerable, and effectively monitor their health and wellbeing, while also protecting them from potentially contracting COVID-19 from carers or family members?
Social landlords and local authorities have experienced significant challenges in quickly and effectively communicating with residents, many of whom were at higher risk from COVID-19.
Although most organisations are now on a gradual digital journey into home-working for staff, and remote monitoring and communication for residents, none could claim to be fully prepared for the enormity of the challenges presented by lockdown.
We wanted to explore how social landlords have innovated, either through trying new ideas or realising a fuller use of technology already in their possession.
We ran three webinars over the course of a week, including presentations from Julia Ashley, CEO of C&C Housing Trust; Helen White, CEO of Taff Housing; Mark Allan, head of Tech & Digitally Enabled Care at Hampshire County Council; Aaron Edwards, implementation & delivery manager at Cardiff Council; and Nathan Downing, head of Advisory Services at TSA.
Some key takeaways:
- COVID-19 has led to social landlords and local authorities trialing new technologies
The unprecedented nature of the pandemic has led to individuals and organisations making brave decisions and being innovative in their thinking and approach. It feels like there is a genuine appetite for finding new ways of doing things, and this can mean that some are learning as they go. And that’s fine – this is the way to effect positive change.
- Social landlords are using technology to tackle a wide range of challenges
For example, Coastline Housing has used video calls for repairs and maintenance visits, and C&C Housing Trust has handed out free tablets to tenants for a wide variety of uses such as two-way communication with C&C and family members and for things like online exercise classes.
- There is a movement away from pendant alarms for monitoring falls
It is now widely accepted that pendant alarms are not a particularly effective way of monitoring falls. In fact, there are technologies out there that can either help to prevent falls from happening or alert care providers the moment they occur. Cardiff Council is offering such technology through its ARMED project, while Secure is advancing non-wearable and non-intrusive rapid fall-detection technology.
- Collaboration is key
This might be stating the obvious, but by collaborating and working closely with tech suppliers, social landlords will achieve better outcomes, and this message came across loud and clear. Hampshire County Council responded to the crisis with a rapidly co-developed WACS, which at its peak made 2,500 automated calls each day to shielding residents.
- The changes are here to stay and will lead to permanent improvements
There is an appetite to take learnings from the last few months forward, and there are already so many positive stories of how TEC (Technology Enabled Care) is transforming lives. I’m confident that the progress that has been made over the last few months will mean people are able to stay living in their homes safely for longer. Not only that, they will be able to enjoy a better quality of life.
Recordings of all three webinars are available online.
Image: Nigel Ebdon, Market Development Manager, Secure