Major research praises housing specialist for sector innovation

CleverCogs technology in use

A LEADING housing specialist has been recognised in a national research project for its technology advances in Scotland’s social care sector.

Blackwood Homes and Care has been praised as a leader in adopting new social care technologies, according to a major report published by Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute.

The research project examined fresh-thinking and technology adoption across Scotland’s housing, health and social care sectors with the aim of better understanding the potential for innovation clusters, the role of public investment and capacity for innovation in the key sectors.

Despite the research reenforcing sector-wide challenges, Edinburgh-based Blackwood and its bespoke tech solutions were included as a case study of what is possible within tech-enabled care, despite the challenges faced by the sector.

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.”

One tech solution mentioned in the report is Blackwood’s CleverCogs technology, a specially designed tablet-based system, which has delivered measurable improvements in quality of life and efficiencies in service delivery, despite major budgetary constraints.

Many 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 crucial role of innovation-focused leadership in driving progress and cultural change.

Blackwood is now renowned as Scotland’s most tech-focused housing specialist, deploying cutting-edge technology to help its customers to live independently. With 600 staff across Scotland, the charity’s headquarters are in Edinburgh.

Simon added: “Making change is a team effort of course, so it’s fantastic to see our co-design approaches with customers and partners held up as an example model.

“The report does an excellent job of highlighting the hurdles the housing and care sector is having to jump in Scotland at the moment and it can be difficult to continue to innovate new forms of tech-enabled care while combatting challenges like funding or labour shortages.

“Despite that, it only gives us more fuel to continue that fresh thinking to allow people to live as independently as possible.

“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and we owe it to them to explore every opportunity that technology offers to enhance the quality of their lives. It’s rewarding that Blackwood is setting the standard in that.”

As Scotland’s most tech-focused housing provider, its Blackwood House design guide – developed in partnership with architects Lewis and Hickey – is the gold standard for accessible housing.

Over the next five years Blackwood aims to build 400 such homes, that can adapt to tenants’ future needs. Each can be adapted to include a host of benefits such as lift access, remotely controlled automated functions, and digital care and housing systems.

The housing specialist puts customers at the heart of everything it does, and their satisfaction is critical to Blackwood’s success. As a modern, supportive employer it also provides individuals with pathways towards achieving long and rewarding careers in roles that make a positive difference.

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