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Bring the Biscuits – The Importance of Resident Engagement in TEC Procurement

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At a recent event, NIFHA’s “Analogue to Digital Switch”, Jonathan Frowd, Procurement Manager at PA Housing, gave advice to Housing Associations (HA) on how to manage the procurement of Technology Enabled Care (TEC) devices.  As a new Appello Smart Living Solutions (SLS) customer, PA Housing are in a good place to offer advice on a digital transition having recently gone through the process themselves.

 

Resident happiness

At the event, Jonathan made a comment that struck us; “Bring the biscuits and make everyone feel happy”. This comment describes the importance of familiarity to a resident, a friendly approach to make them feel comfortable, which will therefore increase their engagement and be more receptive.

 

Ultimately, when implementing any new technology, in any environment, user adoption is critical to project success or failure.  Adoption of new technology can be met with hesitancy and can be avoided. But, with resident consultation in a format which is familiar will assist with user engagement and user uptake.

 

Engage with residents ASAP

Another point Jonathan made was that although PA Housing, thought they had engaged residents early enough, the project would have benefited from an even earlier engagement with residents.  In this scenario, he felt that the earlier you engage with residents the better. This early involvement gives residents a sense of agency and control in the project outcomes which is empowering.

 

Effectively consulting customers helps to shape the requirements and the procurement process generally.  It is not always possible to predict resident preferences and across different sites different requirements will come to the fore. Whatever the case, the selection must be a good fit for your customers and your organisation.  User uptake will be augmented if people feel that their needs have been considered.

 

Site visits and Implementation 

Jonathan described how site surveys are key to accurate planning and budgeting of the procurement.  The more you can accurately price the sites the better, particularly given that most HA’s budget reports will still take place yearly despite project sign-off.  So, there is a need for accurate financial reporting.  Also, the more consultation that residents have, the more nurtured and included they feel.  This can only have a positive effect upon the project outcomes.

 

Access to properties is another critical issue during the installation process of new devices.  Communicating installation dates appropriately and in a timely manner is vital.  As is working around residents’ commitments and knowing if they prefer to be in situ when the installation takes place.  This communication will help to plan the order in which the properties will be upgraded.

 

Post Implementation and Training

Once the new system is installed resident training takes centre-stage.  Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, PA Housing were not able to complete their planned training schedule. A factor that could not have been predicted or mitigated. However, Jonathan still pointed out the importance of having an effective training plan in place ready to start as soon as possible. This can include, one-to-ones, coffee morning style training sessions alongside the more formal training events planned for House Managers and staff.

One final critical piece of advice Jonathan wanted to impart was the importance of resident and staff feedback during the process, to make sure that any issues or concerns are sorted early in the transition.

 

Conclusion

A resident communication plan is fundamental in any digital upgrade.  Resident participation in the process should be considered at every point in the procurement.  This engagement helps all groups involved and can make the difference between a successful project and failure.

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