What can Technology do for Older People?

Technology in housing and care for older people: what can it do for us?

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Housing and Care for Older People, Co-chaired by Lord Best and Peter Aldous MP, held at House of Lords on Monday 13th May 2019. Attended by Professor Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem*, Patron, and Susan Peatfield, Development Director, of Home Renaissance Foundation (HRF).

Experts from health, housing, design and care agencies gave details of the specific contributions that the new technologies are making to housing and care provision for older people. Key speakers included Clare Skidmore, Strategic Lead of Housing, Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) and Ian Spero Founder of Agile Ageing Alliance (AAA).

It was clear from the presentations and subsequent discussion that there are great possibilities for improved quality of life and independence for older people offered by technological “smart” devices and home support. The questions raised made it equally clear that there is a need for “joined-up” thinking to allow these benefits to be scaled up to the level that they impact on our current housing and care crises.

Much emphasis was placed on independent living and applications allowing relatives to monitor remotely older family members living alone. The question asked on behalf of HRF concerned how much emphasis was also being placed on promoting intergenerational living and interdependence.

Claire Skidmore explained how LIN worked with Homeshare, a scheme in which an older person with a spare room is matched with a person who is in need of low-cost accommodation, in return for up to ten hours of household tasks or company per week.

Ian Spero drew attention to the AAA report “Neighbourhoods of the Future”, which has relevant sections on approaches to intergenerational living.

HRF looks forward to continuing this connection with the work of the committee at future sessions.

*At HRF Experts’ Meeting February 2019: Home in the Digital Age, Professor Abdelmonem gave a paper on “Contested Homes in the Age of the Cloud”, in which he discussed some of his work as Chair in Architecture and the Founding Director of the Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Global Heritage (CAUGH), and co-lead of Global Heritage Research at Nottingham Trent University, with reference to housing and older people.