Introducing The FitHome

Here at #hellodigital we’ve been speaking to lots of data experts who are really enthusiastic about how we can make use of it in everyday life and business. When you look at the real life impact that it can have on changing people’s lives that’s hardly surprising. As part of #DataFest2018 Highlands and Islands Fringe the people involved in a revolutionary project linking data, technology and health at home will tell us how they developed their project. 

Here’s some background to the FitHome project, which is already underway at Dalmore.

Under the banner of social business Sunnd, Highland-based Albyn Housing Society is leading a unique initiative with NHS Highland and a modular construction expert, Carbon Dynamic, which could enable people to live safely and well in their communities for longer, create jobs and support public services.

Developed through co-design and built of modular construction, the technology-enabled ‘FitHome’ will host various levels of interactive technology and ambient sensors, enabling the capture of data and associated predictive health analytics. The aim is to prevent episodes or events leading to ill health and hospital admissions, thereby enabling health and care services to support more people at home and potentially allowing for the possibility of earlier hospital discharge.

The origins of the project go back to 2008 when, sadly, a tenant was found dead in his home, having lain unnoticed for over a year. Vowing to minimise the chances of this ever happening again, Albyn commissioned new research exploring potential solutions, only to find that the ideal fix did not yet exist. Identifying both a need and an opportunity, the Society decided to develop its own system, one could be adopted across its growing portfolio of homes.

The Society’s Head of Innovation, Lucy Fraser, knew it was important to gain a full understanding of what tenants wanted and needed and to influence the approach taken by health providers and developers. She formed a like-minded collaboration with NHS Highland and Carbon Dynamic and together they have developed an entirely new customer-led concept of living, encompassing not just the actual home but also cutting-edge assistive technology.

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A pilot phase of 16 homes in Alness, Ross-shire, will provide proof of concept. The project concepts are supported by the Scottish Government through the Inverness-Highland City Deal, and associated research is being conducted by the University of the Highlands and Islands.   Robert Gordon University is developing the artificial intelligence.  The project is supported by three Scottish Government Innovation centres: the Digital Health and Care Institute,  The Datalab and Censis.

Lucy comments: “The central concept of the homes is that they will include ambient social, physiological and building sensors to collect data that can be monitored and responded to by a variety of agencies – potentially transforming the way health and social care is delivered.

“The collaboration has resulted in an affordable, sustainable and successful model for the future – a model that is driven by need, rather than commercial gain. We hope to develop the Fit Homes as a social enterprise to generate revenue for reinvestment into our communities and services. We believe the concept has global significance, so we are very excited.”