Overcoming loneliness and improving Extra Care at Grand Union Housing Group

by Jan Davis, Dementia Project Officer (Extra Care & Dementia), Grand Union Housing Group

At Grand Union, we’ve long seen the impact of loneliness and feelings of social exclusion amongst our older customers, but with new developments in digital technologies, we’ve been able to tackle this problem head-on. By adopting modern ways of care and support, we can ensure our customers continue to live happy, healthy, engaged and independent lives.

Digital technology has revolutionised care and support for customers at Quince Court – our Extra Care scheme in Sandy, Bedfordshire – after replacing our analogue system with Appello’s Smart Living Solutions.

They now benefit from apartment‐to‐apartment video calls, video door entry system, upgraded smoke detectors and pendants for each resident to wear in case of emergency. 

Extra Care, extra quickly Jan Davis, Dementia Project Officer (Extra Care & Dementia), Grand Union Housing Group

Most significantly, we have improved speed of access to support down from minutes to seconds, with much better two‐way speech, which can be far less confusing for older people. If someone is ill or unable to leave their apartment, they can call friends or carers for a chat, helping to promote social engagement in situations where normally they might feel isolated. Central Bedfordshire Council’s care team works in partnership with our independent living advisors to give the best level of 24‐hour care and support for customers at Quince Court.

If a customer calls for assistance and one of the care team is busy with another customer, the call will automatically get routed to the Appello monitoring centre after a few seconds, to reassure the customer that help is coming. If it’s an emergency, then an ambulance will be called straight away ensuring help arrives as quickly as possible. It is hard to articulate the difference this has made to the carers. Now they know that every customer is getting support, even when they are busy elsewhere and without being torn between calls for help.

Carers can prioritise incoming emergency calls and the Extra Care team can now proactively monitor the calls to see when and where support calls are generated, allowing us to proactively improve the services we offer.

It’s great that through using digital technologies, we are able to help combat social exclusion and with an ever-growing older population and more people developing dementia and Alzheimer’s, we can subsequently help older people to remain in their own homes, outside of formal care for longer.

For more information, see guhg.co.uk