A Scottish housing association and care provider has been praised in a report by an economic think tank for its adoption and use of technology.

Blackwood Homes and Care was recognised for its use of technology in a major report published by Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute.

The care provider’s use of the CleverCogs system – developed by Netherlands-based Care Builder – was referenced as an example of what is ‘possible’ with a pro-innovation mindset.

The tablet-based system has delivered measurable improvements in quality of life and efficiencies in service delivery, despite major budgetary constraints.

Blackwood properties feature its CleverCogs technology which is personalised and links users to care and health services, home automation, local information, entertainment and video access to family and friends. The CleverCogs digital system lets users customise it to suit their life.

Emma Congreve, deputy director at the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “We were asked by the Scottish Government to analyse the current social care innovation landscape and the potential for further development of tech solutions for those who draw on care.

“Blackwood homes provided an example of an organisation that has been able to take forward significant technological innovations. As our report stated, based on our research with others in the sector, this was an exception rather than the rule.”

The report, which was released late last year, also noted Blackwood’s strategy of close collaboration with residents and technology partners to develop solutions tailored to their needs – noting the role of innovation-focused leadership in driving progress and cultural change.

Simon Fitzpatrick, chief executive at Blackwood, said: “We are constantly striving to find new ways to improve the lives of the people we support. Receiving recognition and awareness for it always motivates us to keep pushing boundaries and leading the way.

“The research study by the Fraser of Allander Institute is an extremely valuable piece of work for the sector that we’re thrilled to be positively featured in. It’s very rewarding to be recognised.”

Carezapp, part of the Dundee-based Insights Group, was also referenced in the 58-page report for its use of internet of things (IoT) tech in the care sector.

Its bed sensor technology monitors data and sends alert signals to a receiving device. The bed sensor is placed under the mattress and monitors heart rate, breathing and movement.

The tech has been trialled with care providers in Dumfries and Galloway, with care recipients who would normally require frequent overnight monitoring with a care provider present and awake.

The Fraser of Allander Institute was commissioned by government to conduct a review of social care innovation. It aimed to explore whether the creation of a National Care Service would help stimulate innovation in the sector – by consulting with various organisations across the care sector, government agencies and academia.

It found, however, that there is a lack of ‘compelling evidence’ on innovative procurement practices and innovation in social care.

The report said: “There is a consensus that public sector procurement can spur private-sector innovation, but the impact is sector-specific and is hampered by challenges like funding, contract size, and government policy. 

“International evidence reveals few feasible models for innovation adoption in public services and social care, but some participants proposed considering the Accelerated National Innovation Adoption (ANIA) Pathway for the NHS as a potential model for social care. However, the ANIA is currently very health-focused and would require investment to ensure that social care is properly represented.”

The report also cited a need for better data usage in social care, digital skills gaps among the workforce, limited access to devices and poor connectivity.

It said: “Scotland’s innovation assets and entrepreneurial infrastructure do support social care innovation, but engagement is patchy and not representative of the sector as a whole. A gateway or hub for social care innovation could help bridge the gap.”