'We must embrace technology to house our older people effectively.'
Embracing technology will be key to make sure housing providers meet the needs of an ageing population, says Carl Atkey of Appello.
By 2039 we expect there will be almost 10 million people in the UK aged over 75.
The introduction of digital technologies into homes for older people brings massive benefits - from improving the customer experience, to reducing costs, and creating a better understanding of customers to help providers deliver monitoring and care which meets individual needs.
Investing in new technology will also future-proof providers against the upcoming shift in UK telecommunications infrastructure as we move from analogue to digital - Internet Protocol (IP) will become the bedrock of communications and analogue systems will eventually cease to work. Already, we anticipate that monitoring centres will see in excess of 1.5 million failed alarm calls in 2017 due to these changes – this could have serious consequences on customer health and wellbeing in an emergency situation.
The findings of our recently released report, Fast Forward to Digital Care, highlights that there is much to be positive about, even during these times of unprecedented change for housing providers, local government and health and care sectors.
Far from shying away from investment in digital care, 84% of housing providers agreed that the adoption of digital will be critical to their future success. And, only 9% of those surveyed had no plans to phase out analogue systems.
The move to digital is also about the generational shift in changing expectations. The baby boomer generation of today will see technology as an integral part of their home life. When their use of digital technology has aided and improved every other aspect of their lives from play to work, care and support through digital care solutions in older age will be expected.
Our report found that currently only 39% of providers agreed that they were a digital business at present, suggesting that there is a gap that needs to be addressed between those that are not a digital business today and those that are actively planning to move to digital care solutions to meet the future demand.
The report found that a lack of support and understanding of digital is holding back investment and stifling innovation. Just over a third (34%) said their organisations need further education about the benefits of digital care and 31% cited contracts with existing providers as limiting their ability to move to digital. This reflects the fact that some suppliers don’t offer digital services, while others want to get the most from their investments in analogue technology for as long as possible.
But housing providers must make a strategic move to support our growing older person demographic now and this is not lost on 75% of respondents that believe there are plenty of growth opportunities in the housing sector.
Carl Atkey is chief technology officer at Appello.