A high-tech new housing scheme will allow elderly residents to stay connected with their families this Christmas even if they are unable to see them in person.
Cornell Court in Saffron Waldon, Essex, features 73 self-contained flats that are all fitted out with a ‘virtual concierge’ service and video carephones which allow residents to easily interact with the outside world at the touch of a screen.
The technology will allow those who may decide not to visit their loved ones in person due to the risk of coronavirus this winter to be able to enjoy quality time together over the festive period.
Cornell Court, an extra-care scheme run by L&Q Living, the care and support arm of housing association L&Q, is the first social housing scheme in the country to include this technology as standard and to use the Internet of Things to connect several devices within each property to create a wraparound service for residents.
Residents can easily start a group video call with family members, as well as attend virtual care and therapy sessions and activities including bingo and exercise classes.
Charlie Culshaw, Director of L&Q Living, said: “We know that some of our residents may not be having the Christmas they were expecting this year, but we hope that this technology can allow vulnerable people who are limiting their contact with others during the pandemic to connect remotely with their loved ones in ways they were unable to before.
“Encouraging elderly residents to adopt new technology is not always easy, but the video carephones have proved a great success because they are so straightforward to use and provide human interaction at the touch of a button.”
The Alcove system — which includes video carephones, voice-activated assistant Alexa and video-based door entry — means that residents can simply touch an icon on a screen to talk to a real concierge who takes charge of any requests and deals with them on their behalf. Housing support can also be delivered remotely through the carephone service.
The system also makes it easy for residents to communicate with support staff and other residents in the building, as well as order in supermarket deliveries.
The extra care scheme also has round the clock on-site care staff and other facilities including a hairdressing salon, shop and activities room.
Charlie Culshaw added: “While the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted more than ever the need for this type of technology, the benefits go far beyond residents being able to see and speak to their families and organise the vast majority of tasks from home.
“We have seen how the Alcove system allows residents to live more independently in their day-to-day lives. One resident who previously needed 2:1 care is now monitored remotely and is much happier being able to spend time on his own rather than with two staff constantly present. We have also used the system to pick up falls when residents are alone in their homes.
“While this kind of technology will never replace the personal aspect of care, it can enhance resident’s lives by allowing them a safe level of independence for when they would prefer to do things on their own.
“Making everyday tasks such as ordering shopping easier for residents to do themselves also means that care staff are freed up to focus on care work instead of errands.
“Assistive technology has tremendous capability to help elderly residents continue to live as independently as possible and provide an extra level of support for them.”
More information on the Alcove system can be found at www.youralcove.com/