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BT has announced its intention to complete its transition of the UK’s telephone infrastructure from analogue to IP Voice by 2025, a move that will affect all of us to some degree. So what does the digital switchover mean for housing providers? Karen Senior, UK Sales Director at Tunstall Healthcare tells us more.
The UK’s move to a digital telecommunications network will be a step change in the possibilities offered by technology in group living developments. Housing providers have some pressing decisions to make about their current and future strategies to make the most of the digital journey.
All group living environments require ongoing upgrades and maintenance to their communication and alarm systems to ensure their reliability in life critical situations. These upgrades also offer a real opportunity to deliver new and innovative services that make a real difference for residents.
The good news is that going digital has a range of significant benefits:
- Functionality – Internet Protocol (IP) systems allow multiple alarm calls to be managed simultaneously on a single line, residents are able to call each other and activate the visitors’ video door entry system all at the same time, improving the user experience and increasing safety for residents.
- Speed – IP alarm transmission is much faster than analogue, providing additional reassurance for users.
- More insight – using intelligent platforms, information on activities of daily living such as movement around the home, use of electrical appliances and taking medication can be monitored and intelligently analysed to raise alerts in the event of emergencies or changes in behaviour, this can in turn indicate a need for a change in support. This data may also be used to inform care planning and enable families to take a more active role in caring for a family member.
- Future ready – we’re continuously developing our digital portfolio, including our Communicall Vi IP platform, in response to feedback from users and the latest advances in technology. Our future-proof platform supports providers in getting the maximum value from their investment, and delivering peace of mind to their residents.
- Value-added services – digital platforms enable the provision of a range of additional services beyond alarm handling – empowering residents and improving their experience. Examples include WiFi/internet access, supporting social inclusion, health and wellbeing apps, and improved provider contacts.
- Timescales – BT expects to have changed all of their UK phone lines from analogue signalling to IP Voice by 2025. New analogue and ISDN lines will no longer be available for sale after 2020, and BT also proposes to cease selling analogue phone lines in 2023. In the lifecycle of scheme upgrades and new build developments, this essentially means that housing providers need to make decisions now about their digital strategy and approach.
- Legacy – many group living environments in the UK have alarm equipment that may be 10, 20 or even 30 years old. Some of these systems will not operate on the new digital infrastructure and will need to be adapted or replaced. Tunstall will work with housing providers to help them audit their schemes to establish their current equipment portfolio, to ensure their residents remain protected, and identify opportunities for growth, efficiency savings and investment.
- Strategy – housing providers need to be confident that their systems and suppliers will deliver resilient, flexible support today and have the capability to continue and develop products and services to meet challenges in the future. Technology is now becoming central to the capability of providers to ensure effective and efficient service delivery. Business structures and services need to be developed with the ability to take advantage of both the available and future technology, rather than simply including technology in existing approaches. By fully realising the potential of digital systems, providers can position themselves to be able to unlock significant opportunity.
Technology providers are working with BT to establish the full impact of the digital switchover on community alarm systems and telecare devices. In the meantime there are still steps that housing providers can take to begin to prepare for the digital future, such as reviewing their existing assets and finding out more about the benefits of IP to themselves and the people they support.
Tunstall has a range of resources to help housing providers plan for the IP revolution. To find out more, talk to your account manager, email email@example.com or visit uk.tunstall.com/digital-journey, where you can also sign up to receive our digital updates.
Consortium Procurement are pleased to announce the tender for our new Property Safety and Security framework has now been issued.
The framework includes separate lots for safety and security related products and services, including CCTV, Door Entry and Access Control, Intruder Alarms, Lightning Protection, Manned Guarding and Mobile Patrols, Void Security, Electrical Testing, and Consultancy.
The tender has been issued under the Restricted procedure in line with Public Contract Regulations 2015, below are the indicative timescales for this procurement:
Clarification deadline Wednesday 3rd October 2018, 12 noon
Selection Questionnaire submission deadline Friday 12th October 2018, 12 noon
Evaluation process Monday 15th October to Wednesday 31st October 2018
Notification of progression to Invitation To Tender Friday 2nd November 2018
Issue of Invitation to Tender Wednesday 7th November 2018
Framework Live Date 1st March 2019
All interested suppliers are invited in to the opportunity, to access the tender documents please visit Delta eSourcing at https://www.delta-esourcing.com/, using access code 56UM7KD7E5.
Over half of older people believe technology can reduce the risks of social isolation and loneliness. Video technology offers a lifeline to supported housing providers to connect the unconnected.
Technology offers a lifeline for older people at risk of social isolation and loneliness, according to new research from Appello, a leading provider of technology enabled care services, in collaboration with Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity.
The survey revealed that 7% of over 75 year olds don’t see anyone and 7% don’t speak to anyone in an average week. More than a quarter see two or less people in a week and 45% speak to two or less people. Unsurprisingly then, a third of over 75 year olds admit to feeling lonely, and 30% feel socially isolated, occasionally or often.
In addition to highlighting the scale of social isolation and loneliness, insights from the study suggest a huge opportunity for housing providers to improve the lives of their residents by upgrading existing technology and, or, embracing mature and readily available communications technologies to connect older people with neighbours, friends, family and carers.
Over half (56%) of older people welcome new technology if it improves their quality of life and the same number agree that “technology can aid communication and help close the physical gap between distant family and friends”.
While a landline phone remains the most commonly used form of communications technology for over 75 year olds (93%), personal safety alarms, installed in many supported or assisted living environments, are the second most popular – cited by one third of older people surveyed. By upgrading analogue technology that supports resident safety to a digital service that also promotes wellbeing, housing providers are in a unique position to help tackle social isolation and loneliness.
It’s true that the use of technology to communicate is not universally accepted but there is a strong link between those that find technology unappealing and a lack of understanding or difficulty using it, as well as how accessible it is. Two in three older people admit they don’t understand technology or know how to use it and 55% state that it’s access to funds to purchase it that prevents them embracing digital – barriers that housing providers are uniquely placed to break down.
The majority (94%) of those who find technology unappealing said they prefer face to face communication, suggesting a lack of awareness around video calling technology. Indeed, 83% of over 75 year olds said they never use video calling such as Skype or FaceTime, representing the most underutilised method of communication cited and a largely untapped opportunity for housing providers to utilise mature technologies to connect residents.
Tim Barclay, Chief Executive Officer, Appello, comments, “While not a substitute for human interaction, technology has the potential to connect the unconnected, helping reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness. Our survey challenges the common misconception that older people don’t like or want technology – they absolutely do when it benefits their wellbeing and with the right support in place.
“In the future, smart devices and apps that support mobility, social inclusion and independence in supported housing could become as indispensable as personal alarms, pull cords and door entry systems are today – particularly as we see the switchover from analogue to digital.
Housing providers that are willing to embrace this technology now are primed to be at the forefront of a move to ensure multiple generations of older people can live happy, healthy, engaged and independent lives for as long as possible. Our free downloadable guide for housing providers gives further insights and recommendations.”
Janet Morrison, Chair, Campaign to End Loneliness, comments, “Many people assume that if you live in supported housing, housing association or care homes you won’t be lonely – and that’s clearly not true! We know that social interaction is limited because of barriers created by physical disability and, or, cognitive impairment among residents but we should also acknowledge that additional barriers are created by risk adverse housing providers and, or, a failure to recognise the importance of maintaining social connections for older people.
We’ve seen that technology can play a vital role in enabling older people to maintain and develop their social connections. While some technologies are currently inaccessible and unpalatable to older people, others – such as mobile phones, PCs, digital TVs and, increasingly, tablets – are now commonly accepted and accessible. These technologies could play a particularly important role in supporting the delivery of services in supported housing.”
Helen Milner, Chief Executive Officer, Good Things Foundation, comments, “There is a clear correlation between digital exclusion and social exclusion, and people who don’t have digital skills and confidence are for more likely to face other social exclusions. This means that helping people to access technology is about far more than just connecting them to friends and family, but helping them to access the opportunities that many of us take for granted.”
The free to download guide ‘The Role of Technology in Combating Loneliness and Social Isolation:
A Guide for Housing Providers can be found here
About the survey
Findings are based on the results of a postal survey completed in November 2017 by 186 respondents aged 75+, geographically spread across the UK.
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Northern Housing Consortium
We are part of the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC), but our reach is national. The NHC represents the views of housing organisations in the North of England. NHC bring its members together to share ideas, represent their interests and ensure they are heard at a regional and national government level.