This month’s Spotlight piece focuses on Fiona Millar, who is Assistant Director of Housing with Bield Housing & Care. Fiona has been with this organisation for 28 years and currently manages Bield Response24 (BR24) which includes Bield’s Technology Enabled Care services.
BT has recently announced that analogue telephone services are to be switched over to digital by 2025, which will have an impact on telecare services. Bield are working with the national TEC Programme to lead a pathfinder project managing a transition from the existing analogue Telecare service to a new Digital service.
Fiona explained the aims of her project;
‘Bield’s focus is on providing safe and effective technology enabled care services for our tenants. To ensure robust and resilient systems are in place, we are initially replacing telecare equipment on a ‘like for like’ basis, testing basic requirements and developing supporting operational processes as we go.
Bield already provides a range of TEC in our grouped housing for older adults (typically aged from 50 – 80 years old), providing our tenants with security and knowledge that if they need assistance they can contact BR24 round the clock, 365 days a year. The planned changes to the analogue network means a carefully managed transition to digital services is a necessity.
We will initially migrate 100 Telecare users in three of our grouped housing developments to enable calls to be made over a digital broadband connection. The learning through this process will be captured and used to inform how we transition the remaining 12,000 people living in 150 grouped housing developments ahead of the planned analogue switch over.’
Fiona’s project is truly ground breaking, as introducing digital telecare systems in grouped housing has not been done in Scotland before. Work undertaken so far has already assisted with understandings of connectivity and best methods of introduction into grouped housing.
Tenants have been involved since the start of the work via a Partnership Forum and have been supportive. Fiona notes that individual tenants who live in the initial three grouped housing developments, are unlikely to experience any significant changes to their service – apart from calls being answered more quickly and the quality of sound on the line being clearer! Tenant feedback will remain a priority as the service goes ‘live’, as Fiona and her team are hopeful that the work will be an exemplar for others and support future learning on migration within grouped housing.
Fiona goes on to say that;
‘This is an exciting project, and I am delighted to be part of it. However, it does present some challenges in terms of learning, developing and implementing as well as meeting business as usual requirements. The support and expertise provided by the TEC Programme’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) has provided reassurance for both myself and Bield’s senior management team, and has also helped to raise our profile in the TEC sctor in general which has been very encouraging!
Understanding the ‘art of the possible’ has also been a real learning curve for me, looking over the longer term and trying to comprehend just how much the delivery of care is likely to change in the future as a result of digital functionality, and the benefits this may bring for our tenants and their families! I have also learnt about the range and functionality of products, the need for robust Privacy Impact Assessments to comply with the new GDPR requirements, penetration testing, risk management and agile working.’
In terms of next steps, after initial implementation is undertaken the focus will remain on establishing lessons learned which can help shape a further roll out and identify developments and opportunities for TEC in the future.
Big congrats to Fiona and her team for their hard work so far, and we look forward to see what the year holds!