Housing Providers to Consult with Elderly Over New Technology
Six housing providers have been awarded £440,000 to develop a suite of tech services in conjunction with older residents. Housing Industry Leaders explores how this will help to close the digital divide.

Bield Housing & Care, Haringey Council, Platform Housing Group, Podl Group, Southend Care, and Wiltshire Council will each receive between £65,000 and £75,000 in funding. The housing providers will use the funding to involve their older residents in shaping new digital services.

The funding is part of the Technology for our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (TAPPI) project, which is aiming to improve the way in which technology is used in housing and care for older people through 10 practical principles.

TAPPI is led by the Housing Learning and improvement Network (Housing LIN) and the TEC Services Association (TSA) and funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust, the TAPPI project will co-produce new tech tools with people who have lived experience over a 12-to-15 month period.

Many barriers to the implementation of technology in the past have stemmed from elderly people not feeling like the technology meets their specific needs/is relevant to them. Consulting them at every stage of development will ensure a much larger uptake in the technology is achieved.

Different Devices And Systems Will Be Tested

It is said that each of the housing providers will be engaging with a diverse range of older people to test different devices, apps, and systems across a variety of housing settings.

Residents will be given shared responsibility, alongside staff, to make decisions about which digital support services to develop.

This approach is hoped by the six housing providers to support them in creating digital services across England, Scotland, and Wales that are determined by their residents, alongside the professionals and staff that support them.

CEO of Bield Housing & Care, Dr Lynne Douglas said: “We are very excited to be the Scottish testbed for TAPPI2. This has huge potential to shift thinking on how housing can be integral to new models of delivery in the integration agenda.”

Most importantly, it will be delivered together with older people to improve the outcomes that matter to them.

Developing Residents’ Skills Will Help To Close The Digital Divide

Tackling the digital divide is crucial to addressing social and economic inequalities and levelling up every community. Housing providers are playing a key role in helping people to get online and learn digital skills.

Even with access to equipment and the internet, residents don’t have the skills to use the equipment, and therefore they are less likely to try and use it.

To tackle the underlying causes of digital exclusion, strategies like this one aims to close the digital divide are needed. The strategies must align with and reinforce wider work to improve residents’ digital skills.

By consulting them on what technology they want to be developed, residents are more likely to try using and implementing the technology into their day to day life.

Digital Services Developed Will Address Real-life Problems

Professor Roy Sandbach OBE, TAPPI chair and former director of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing at Newcastle University said: “The TAPPI principles will only be of value if they are applied in practice, and I’m thrilled that many housing and care organisations applied to become TAPPI testbeds.

“Those chosen will provide insights from a range of settings and, most importantly, will put users at the heart of this work.”

We’ll use the TAPPI principles and a co-production approach to develop digital services that address real-life problems of older people.

To facilitate this approach, the TAPPI project has appointed Co-production Works, a specialist consultancy that supports organisations to work in co-production with people who use services. Co-production works will train residents and staff and pay participants for their time.

When it comes to evaluating the project, The Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR), part of the University of Cambridge has been appointed.