Technology and innovation can have a significant benefit on the lives of vulnerable residents, and it is evident that during COVID-19 there has been disparity between those with, and those without, access to modern technology.
From video bingo to music being played over the emergency call system, we have seen customers really embracing technology when it has been well designed, is easy to use and is focussed on their needs. A great example of how tech solutions helped support end-customers through self-isolation was the 192% increase in the use of video calling we saw on our Smart Living Solutions during the first half of 2020.
How have perceptions changed?
The large majority (85%) of housing associations and sheltered housing providers believe their organisations perceptions on using technology to support resident’s wellbeing has changed for the better during COVID-19. These are findings of research we undertook, with the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (HLIN).
These insights paint a promising picture for the future of digital care technologies, with 3 out of 4 housing providers claiming that their requirements for wellbeing technology have changed as a result of the pandemic.
Our research with 120 senior executives from providers of supported, sheltered and retirement housing also found that the large majority (90%) of those surveyed planned to utilise technology further to support residents who may have to self-isolate or shield as a result of the pandemic.
Where will we see prioritisation?
With the benefits of technology being far reaching, and organisations facing a backlog of projects, prioritisation will be critical.
As we see a trend towards increased working from home, communication will be key to maintaining service.
As housing providers look forward, investing in better communication capabilities will be a priority, with 97% of respondents believing their usage of technology to communicate with residents will increase following COVID-19. The benefits of video communication have been evident in home and work life during the pandemic and housing providers are specifically looking to embrace these capabilities with their customers - 8 out of 10 housing providers feel video communication between staff and residents is becoming increasingly important.
A reduction in permanent site staff has been a growing trend within supported housing for the last decade and there has been a move towards staff managing multiple sites.
As the pandemic grabbed hold, many housing providers took the decision for staff to work remotely. As a result, ‘enabling staff to work from home, whilst maintaining visibility of property and customers’ was ranked by housing providers as their top priority for technology post COVID-19. With the anticipation of a winter spike in COVID-19, preparation is critical, and our recent our recent webinar survey, showed 100% of respondents said that their housing organisation was planning for ‘partial work from home’ this winter.
The customer perception
Due to COVID-19, over 65’s shopping online has doubled in 2020, and record numbers registered for online banking. This demographic has been suddenly stimulated to dramatically increase their understanding and usage of technology, as there was little alternative.
It is anticipated that the expectations upon housing providers for technology within their properties will increase, as it has played such a pivotal role in so many people’s lives throughout 2020.
Therefore, the investment in Technology Enabled Care Services becomes critical. Beyond the recognised safety and wellbeing benefits, the technology available within a property, becomes part of the overall service package, a reflection on the investment in the property, and a distinguishing factor for individuals deciding where they feel, safe, comfortable and happy to live.
As a society we should be supporting this shift and providing services that meet the expectations of a more technology aware audience.
The findings from the research are being published in a series of three reports from Appello; read the first and second in the series, on enabling better living in supported housing visit.
Study Part 3 - October release