Blackwood Homes and Care, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh and industry partners, has won a major funding award to help older people live at home for longer and with greater independence.
The £12.5 million Blackwood Neighbourhoods for Independent Living project will combine age-friendly homes with innovative technology, products and services to support healthy, independent living and reduce social isolation.
Funding of £6 million has been secured from UK Research and Innovation as part of the ISCF Healthy Ageing Challenge, with matched funding from project partners.
New and retrofit homes across three sites in Dundee, Glasgow and Buckie are set to benefit from innovations including home devices connected via the Internet of Things to provide health and wellbeing data through an app, and a ‘virtual neighbourhood’ online community, enabling residents to gamify their fitness goals and share progress with friends and family.
The University of Edinburgh will work with residents to co-design a ‘value exchange model’, allowing them to contribute to their communities by sharing and trading skills and expertise.
The University will also build on a previous collaboration with Blackwood, the Smart Meter for Independent Living (SMILE) project, using artificial intelligence to monitor energy use to identify changes in dweller behaviour that could be a cause for concern, allowing for rapid intervention if required.
Stephen Osborne, Professor of International Public Management at the University of Edinburgh Business School, and Principal Investigator for the project, said: “We are looking forward to working with Blackwood on this project. We will bring our service design and management expertise to lead both the co-design work with the elderly residents in all three localities and the stakeholder engagement with the key public services involved.
“Public service design in a virtual space, as the pandemic requires, is an innovative and exciting venture and we believe it will not only benefit Blackwood residents but also offer key lessons for the future as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Fanchea Kelly, chief executive at Blackwood, said: “While Blackwood has a unique focus on design and innovation for independent living, this funding takes us into an exciting future, where we can support more older people and people with disabilities to live their life to the full.
“What we are proposing at our three neighbourhoods will effectively create communities of the future, providing what we hope is a blueprint for great places to be as people grow older.”
Edinburgh Innovations, the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service, worked closely with Blackwood and partners to secure the ISCF funding.
Caroline Woodside, ISCF Project Manager at Edinburgh Innovations, said: “This funding unlocks the potential for wide-reaching benefits, as our ageing population seeks to live healthy and rewarding lives.
“Combining a range of University expertise with Blackwood Homes’ innovative approach to healthy ageing, we will create a suite of novel solutions to improve quality of life for older people, allowing them to enjoy their later lives in better health, in their own homes and embedded in their communities for longer.”