The Guinness Partnership were founded in 1890 to improve people’s lives; including helping to provide decent homes for those without. Now, 130 years later the philanthropic nature of the organisation continues and today they manage over 60,000 homes spread across England.
In 2017, The Guinness Partnership began to review their future provision for alarm services. Since 2019, Appello have been working with Guinness Partnership to replace legacy analogue warden call and door systems with a hardwired, digital solution that will enable them to meet their future digital ambitions. Wendy Wells, Head of Policy and Business Implementation at The Guinness Partnership talked to Appello, about their digital journey and the tips they have for other organisations.
How are your digital transformation projects going and where are you to date?
In 2017 Guinness started considering options around future provision for alarm services. We started with the more traditional housing for older person schemes, and we deferred decisions around more dispersed schemes until we had some of the schemes completed and were able to take some feedback.
We set out to deliver an assisted technology offer which would improve our ability to monitor and respond to customer safety and wellbeing at our schemes. We saw assisted technology as playing quite an important part in our care service offer for older people, enabling them to live as independently as possible, but also providing peace of mind for them and their family and friends.
We were looking for a system that would be responsive, so that we could respond quickly if customers had an unexpected event or emergency. Also, that it was preventative and would enable Guinness staff to catch early warning signs and allow early intervention to avoid hospital admissions. And then we wanted it to be enabling, and to support great social inclusion and safety.
We have now installed a digital alarm system into about 80 of our housing for older person schemes and we’ve got a really full programme going forward for the next three and a half years.
How has your programme for rolling out Appello’s Smart Living Solutions progressing to date?
It’s all been really good so far, we had to do a lot of pre work to decide what we wanted and how we were going to do it, where we were going to do it. Lots of conversations with our customers to check in with them to make sure it was okay.
We started in a handful of schemes and we did some pilots which worked really well before rolling it out more mainstream.
You’re really forward thinking, so what’s the future for Guinness Partnership?
We’re currently focussed on ensuring all our flats for older people have a two-way digital alarm system installed which is a large piece of work. That’s going to take us up to the date of the digital switchover. But we’re also investigating ways in which we can innovate using technology to help our customers feel more integrated in the community as well as the community as a scheme. So that’s something we’re also working on.
For those who are questioning moving to digital or have some concerns about that project, what would you say to them?
This technology has transformed our digital offer and our offer to customers. It has ensured that we’re delivering services that will last into the future, it provides easy integration of other services and the ability to connect to additional devices, from tablets and smartphones to smart sensors and other connected devices to help our residents lead connected and independent lives, which is what we want.
Additionally, while benefitting from the advantages of the digital solutions, our schemes are also ready for that switchover, so we don’t have the worry coming up about analogue lines going, so we are ready for the digital network by 2025.
Tips from the Guinness Partnership on how to make the most of your digital transformation:
– It sounds obvious, but make sure the specifications are correct for your customer.
– Make sure that if any equipment needs future enhancement that your organisation is prepared programmatically and financially. Ask about the future of the technology and the industry generally and what, if any, implications this has on the service you are buying
– Research, research, research.
– Don’t be blinded by tech talk.
– Don’t be afraid to ask for explanations, keep it simple and if you don’t understand – ask!
– Take your time. Don’t feel obligated to hurry your selection, it is important.
– Survey your customers. The selection must be a good fit for your customers and your organisation. For example, The Guinness Partnership’s main customer feedback was that they wanted to avoid the alarms looking like the traditional ‘button in box’ and so we made sure that this was a prime requirement in the alarm selection
– Work in a collaborative way with your chosen provider to innovate for the future. Share ideas for how you would like to see the product evolve.