Homes containing “social, physiological and building sensors” to collect data that can be monitored and responded to by health and social care professionals will be built in the Highlands this summer. The project, a collaboration between Albyn Housing Society, Carbon Dynamic and NHS Highland, could transform the way healthcare is delivered; avoiding the need for people to live in a care home and reducing the incidence of being hospitalised as the result of a fall.
The factory built, low energy homes will enable predictive health analytics, which could help prevent events leading to ill health, and will include flexible spaces and walls for storing medical equipment. Developed in conjunction with potential tenants, healthcare professionals, technologists and enterprise experts, they will enable the NHS to support more people at home; in turn reducing admissions to – and increasing discharges from – hospital.
We play a leading role in developing new models and services that can support community cohesion, sustainability and growth – Calum Macaulay
Using research supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Albyn’s head of innovation, Lucy Fraser, worked with Matt Stevenson, managing director of Carbon Dynamic, and Professor Angus JM Watson, NHS Highland’s director of research, development and innovation, to develop the ‘Fit Homes’. “They include ambient social, physiological and building sensors to collect data that can be monitored and responded to by a variety of agencies – potentially transforming the way health and social care is delivered,” said Fraser. “We also hope to develop the homes as a social enterprise opportunity, to generate revenue for reinvestment into our communities and services. We believe the concept has global significance, so we are very excited for the future.”
The pilot phase, 16 houses being built at Dalmore in Alness, Ross-shire this summer, has been supported by a Scottish Government housing grant and funding from the Inverness-Highland City Region Deal. The University of the Highlands and Islands is contributing proof of concept research with financial support from the Digital Health and Care Institute. Robert Gordon University (RGU) is developing a data model designed to safeguard residents. With falls currently costing the NHS more than £2bn and four million bed days each year, it is hoped the system will help people live independently in their homes for longer, reduce admissions and enable early hospital discharge.
“This is an excellent example of the ways that artificial intelligence is beginning to be used to benefit individuals through applications with a social purpose,” said Professor Susan Craw, an AI expert at RGU. Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab, added: “Partnerships like this help retain home-grown talent and help Scotland to cement its place as a leader in data science development worldwide.”
Albyn’s chief executive Calum Macaulay commented: “Where previously, the registered social landlord’s role was simply to provide affordable rented housing, now we play a leading role in developing new models and services that can support community cohesion, sustainability and growth.”