Glasgow digital telecare pilot could help 4million vulnerable residents across UK

Glasgow is to pioneer a digital telecare solution which could be scaled up across the UK to help an estimated four million vulnerable and shielding people to live independently for longer in their own homes.

The city council is to benefit from £130,000 in innovation funding to support the testing of assistive home care technology designed by Communicare247 which, if successful, could transform care services in local authorities, housing associations and care providers across the country.

The cash will support the next development phase of Project Liberty and is part of the council’s “Technology enabled Glasgow” challenge, bringing together Communicare247 and partners including the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership, the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the Alliance) and Tunstall.

The digital telecare system incorporates consumer devices such as voice-activated speakers, smart phones and other smart wearables, sensors and location technologies through a novel monitoring system that can integrate with existing telecare home care alarms.

It is based on long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) digital infrastructure, which enables devices to collect and send data without the need for 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. The IoT Scotland wireless sensor network is designed to support full use of internet of things (IoT) devices, including sensor applications deployed in Communicare247’s Liberty home care system.

The support for Project Liberty, which is expected to be complete in the third quarter of 2021 and ready for larger deployment, comes via the £9.2million Can Do Innovation Challenge Fund which announced funding for a number of public sector-led innovation schemes in Scotland.

The project is currently limited to a small number of participants but there are around 9,000 telecare users in Glasgow with 180,000 across Scotland, according to pre-Covid data, and a further 1.7m current users in the UK.

Tom Morton, Chief Executive of Communicare247, said: “Project Liberty will design and deliver the ideal solution to allow some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland to live independently within their own home with reduced reliance on publicly-funded care interventions.

“A telecare system that uses Alexa and smart watches is a game changer. We are integrating common and easy to use consumer products along with IoT sensors and innovative telehealth monitoring in an existing data-led system that reports to carers, family members and emergency services as required.

He added: “Currently, across the UK, there are an estimated 4milllion elderly and shielding people who rely on analogue telecare systems to help keep them safe. Most of these systems are at risk of becoming obsolete due to the telephone network switch from analogue to digital. This gives the UK an unprecedented opportunity to adopt a leading digital-enabled assisted living care which will be delivered through Project Liberty.

“Together the partners behind Project Liberty are leading the way in developing integrated solutions to worldwide challenges in ageing populations and I’d like to thank them for their support and vision.”

Michael Gillespie, Principal Officer, Glasgow HSCP, said: “Communicare247 was selected by Glasgow HSCP and the city council from a competitive field of over 40 SMEs in Phase 1 of the Scottish Enterprise-sponsored Can Do challenge. Their proposed integrated digital solutions will help us meet the challenge of transitioning telecare services from analogue to digital. This carries the potential to empower users to self-manage and maintain independence at home using familiar technologies.

“To date our private-public sector partnership work with them has been productive. Subsequently we have selected Communicare247 to develop further their product in Phase 2 of the Challenge as their innovative solution is highly valued.

“The supply of telecare is a relatively narrow marketplace characterised by relatively one-dimensional options. Communicare247’s forward thinking approach provides the potential for using a wider range of peripherals within a stable and effective platform which we hope will facilitate delivery of more user-friendly technology-enabled care services.”

The funding will be used to support the second phase of development which will deploy and test the system with citizens living independently with a variety of complex care needs, including Alzheimer’s Syndrome. The first phase commenced in January 2019.