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My Intelligent Home- how housing can support the health agenda

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Published: 12/01/2018   Last Updated: 26/06/2018  
Tags: Blog

The recent announcement by NHS bosses to cancel non-urgent operations, treatments and appointments for the rest of January to try and ease some of the pressure on hospitals made me think that in housing we talk about the need for more homes but this is actually misdirecting the debate on the future of housing in this country. Instead we should be talking about building the right type of home, one that can be adapted to the different stages of a person’s life and that can meet and provide for the needs of aged care problems or mental health problems in your own home.We are an ageing society. When the NHS began 48% of people died before reaching 65. Today, the success of the NHS means this figure has reduced to 18%. At Salix Homes 25% of our tenants are aged 60 or over. Much of health expenditure is on people living longer with multiple chronic illnesses. However, as residents in our communities live longer so the number of people 65 and over receiving support with social care has dropped and continues to do so. People who are over 65 account for 62% of total bed stays and stay 11.9 days on average. The average cost of a hospital bed is £500 a day. The conclusion to this is quite simple... we need to find an alternative way to support people with aged care problems as well as ensuring they maintain a quality of life that means they live rather than just exist.

As a result, the future of housing needs to be viewed far more within the context of the future of the health and social care sector within this country and what those needs are. Health and housing need to be brought together into a more coherent partnership that looks at how we can make the world in our homes a better place for people with health and social care needs and thereby putting our homes at the heart of the delivery of the health and well-being agendas in this country. By doing this housing can help reduce the admission of acute cases and help A&E beds be used as a last resort rather than the current de facto position. In short, the shaping of the built environment of the future needs to deliver on the needs of the public health agenda.

The answer is to focus more care in the home environment and one way to do this is to introduce more assistive technology into the home. This has the ability to support prevention, reduce emergency admissions, speed up hospital discharge and introduce into the home tools to identify risk and provide improved monitoring – in short a management system to help keep people well at home.

In my role at Salix Homes I am working with the Salford NHS Trust and University of Salford looking at how technology can be introduced into the homes to support the wellbeing agenda. Called the Mii-Home programme, it is a series of initiatives that are looking at how and if assistive technology could work in the average home. This partnership helped to create the ‘Living laboratory’ at the University which was used to develop ‘Carebot’ as seen on the BBC’s ‘Six robots and us’ programme over Christmas.

Our aim is to use technology in the home to detect changes in behaviour and thereby predict a deterioration in a person’s well-being. Sensors in the homes measure motion activity and detect deterioration, and artificial intelligence uses software to analyse these behaviour patterns and predict decline in health requiring action. Alerts can then be sent to carers or relatives that triggers have been identified that require an intervention before they become critical and health is restored through the usual care pathways. The aim of the system is to detect and treat symptoms before there is an escalation that requires hospital treatment.

The Mii-Home programme is trying to validate the system’s ability to detect key indicators of health in a home setting. Placing this technology in the homes of volunteers is now underway. As 2018 progresses, we will start building up data results from the trial which will help us understand how the trial is progressing and I look forward to reporting back during 2018 with these results.