The Energy Innovation Centre (EIC) is calling on UK innovators and SMEs to support the utilities industry in transforming the lives of people living with dementia at home.
The initiative aims to bring businesses together with utilities companies to facilitate innovation across the sector, developing new products and services that will help people with the condition to communicate with utilities companies on the phone or online, navigate bills, and protect them from fraud.
The official launch of the initiative follows on from the Call 4 Action workshop, a collaboration between the EIC, Cadent, and the Alzheimer’s Society.
The workshop, which took place earlier this month, brought together utility companies, innovators from different backgrounds, charities, and experts to raise awareness of the issues faced by those with dementia in relation to safe access to utilities in the home.
Denise Massey, managing director of the EIC, said: “The utilities industry is always evolving, and so we want to make sure that customers in vulnerable situations are not left behind as it looks to continue innovating. For us, the way to do this is to use innovation to solve the specific challenges faced by the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.
“We hope that this campaign is the first major step in the creation of meaningful solutions that support the industry-wide goal of keeping customers on the priority services register (PSR), such as those with dementia, living independently in the safety of their own homes. We are beyond excited to see what the innovation community has to offer to support this cause.”
Research undertaken at the Call 4 Action workshop discovered that over half of the attendees had either a partial or no understanding of the challenges surrounding utilities for people with dementia in the UK.
Attendees also identified communication and safety as two of the key areas in which utilities companies could make an impact.
To help encourage businesses to think about ways they can help improve the delivery of utilities for these people, the EIC has highlighted some of the key challenges which the sector must address.
- Communication, including improving how people with dementia communicate with companies on the phone or online, and how they can be prompted to remember security information.
- Bills and payments, including support navigating bills, providing meter readings, understanding payment requirements such as debit/credit balances, or support utilising different payment options.
- Finance, including understanding and comparing different company offers, support changing providers, and help managing costs.
- Fraud, in particular, supporting people with dementia to prevent them from being vulnerable to fraudulent schemes.
- Safety, such as ensuring customers can use utilities safely in their own home and that that their safety is not compromised during unplanned disconnections.