2021 has seen many challenges thrown at housing providers and those delivering Technology Enabled Care services (TECS), but once again, together we were able to succeed in times of adversity.
From resourcing difficulties through to a strained health and social care system, and the subsequent impact on ambulance wait times – even fuel shortages! 2021 was another year incredibly difficult to predict and navigate.
Looking ahead 12 months is becoming an increasingly difficult task, but it feels safe to assume we should expect the unexpected. The experience we have all gained over the last 24 months will help with that, as will the foundations provided by new technology platforms – provided they have been put in place. As a result, many organisations will be able to go into 2022 with confidence.
Driven by multiple factors including the digitalisation of the telecoms network and COVID, the appetite for purposeful innovation – i.e. solutions that make a proven difference in the real world – has never been greater. Adoption is closely following suit because of the step change in housing and/or care experiences that can be delivered as a result.
Consequently, in the main, service providers have continued to innovate and meet this demand, and we foresee that this trend for innovation that is focussed on outcomes, and not just on technology for the sake of it, will continue to grow in the months and years to come.
Work from home, work from anywhere.
As working from home once again becomes a government directive, rather unsurprisingly we predict that a trend towards a longer-term focus on remote working will gather pace. Those housing providers partnering with TECS providers who have embraced cloud technology have been able to adapt well to these working environment challenges. As a result, utilising cloud technologies will be a focus for housing providers looking for solutions to adapt to new ways of working.
Our report with the Housing Learning and Innovation Network (HousingLIN), The Tech Pandemic launched in Autumn 2021, identified that 63% of housing providers were looking to increase their remote working for staff traditionally scheme based.
That is a superb opportunity for progressive organisations to use remotely gathered data on, and insights into, their customers behaviours, their wellbeing, and their environment to help them deliver an even more appropriate service.
Level of innovation.
The TAPPI inquiry report: Technology for our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation was released in October 2021 and it identified 10 principles for building technology into housing. From interoperability to a personalised approach, overarching all these principles is a need for continued innovation.
Innovation can also help organisations achieve wider goals, such as increased environmental responsibility. As an example, the move towards interoperability in products being pioneered by a small number of TECS companies, including ourselves, means a material reduction in prior technology investments becoming obsolete. Our new SmartLife dispersed alarm interoperates with many existing peripherals from other manufacturers, which is not something we’ve seen in the sector before. However, it is important this becomes more widespread because there is a general acceptance of the benefits that open protocol approaches deliver. It means greater choice for housing providers, care organisations and for the end-customer. This in turn means an increased ability to meet individual needs and procure the best services for your organisation.
Technology as an enabler.
Possibly kick started by COVID, we really think the joining up of health, care and housing has become more and more prevalent in 2021 and that this will continue to grow. Technology will continue to become more instrumental in this, led by the advancements in interoperability and open environments which enable improvements in how these sectors can communicate and work together.
Research shows that 89% of hosing providers frontline staff have shown a greater appetite for technology due to COVID, however, technology should be a part of the bigger solution. There is no replacement for people in many situations, but people who have more insights on their customers can unarguably provide better services. Therefore, intuitive, and innovative technology needs to be wrapped together with caring, empathetic people to enable the lowest-cost and most effective delivery of personalised services.
These trends within Technology Enabled Care should fill those starting their digital journey with confidence that their steps are the right ones to take now and will support them and their customers in the future. Our vision has always been to deliver transformation through a blend of empathetic people, coupled with best-in-class technology, and that approach has never felt more appropriate than it does now.
Having helped more Housing Providers go digital on their sites than any other TECS supplier, we are very excited about what we can do for those of you looking to start your digital journey in 2022. We are here to offer any advice or guidance you need to take your first step and, as our existing customers can attest, it is a change journey that you’ll wish you began sooner.