Blackwood Homes and Care

Shot of a senior couple hiking together out in the mountains

The combination of innovative home design and care technology is enabling older people to live healthier and more independent lives.

For many older people, being able to stay in their own home as they age is key to quality of life. Now a team at Blackwood Homes and Care is using design and technology to help create houses and communities that support an ageing population to live healthier, more connected lives.

Blackwood Homes and Care is an Edinburgh-based specialist housing and care provider.

Health inequalities are growing

Colin Foskett, Head of Innovation at Blackwood said:

People are living longer but health inequalities are growing.

The Blackwood Neighbourhoods for Independent Living project has been co-designed and co-created to rebalance inequalities, and empower, encourage and reward people to take an active role in their ageing journey.

A partnership approach is core to this multidisciplinary project. To meet the challenges of designing age-friendly homes, sustaining physical activity, managing common complaints of ageing, and supporting social connections, the team collaborated with:

  • residents in three demonstrator neighbourhoods (in rural, semi-rural and urban settings)
  • local authorities
  • health providers
  • industry
  • academia.

The team received a £100,000 grant from the healthy ageing challenge fund.

Ground-breaking house design

The Blackwood House and Design Guide is a ground-breaking house design.

It provides the blueprint for affordable, accessible and connected homes that adapt as people age and enable them to live independently within their neighbourhood. Co-designed with customers and architects, it features a barrier-free core to the home, allowing easy movement for any level of mobility.

It also includes innovative automation through CleverCogs™. CleverCogs™ is a platform that allows individuals to take control of things like lighting, as well as access platforms to communicate with carers, family and friends, and health services. Customers personalise their system picking the ‘cogs’ that support their ageing journey.

Value-exchange model

The team worked with researchers at The University of Edinburgh and community workshops to co-design a value-exchange model, which encourages and rewards participation in the neighbourhood.

Colin Foskett explained:

For example, if someone gives an elderly neighbour a lift to a hospital appointment, they may get some free credit for the electric vehicle club.

Or data from wearable devices could reward people who keep active with free classes.

The model is designed to reduce social isolation through participation in activities.

UK Research and Innovation’s Healthy Ageing Challenge Director, George MacGinnis said:

Blackwood shows that through the thoughtful, collaborative design of new homes and empowerment of residents to help self-manage health and wellbeing, we can create great places in which to grow old.

Top image:  Credit: Dean Mitchell, E+ via Getty Images

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