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An innovative £12.5 million project is being launched to create three exciting ‘communities of the future’, which will help older people in Scotland to live longer, healthier, independent lives.

Blackwood Neighbourhoods for Independent Living was developed by working with the communities involved. The project will incorporate accessible homes, products, services and outdoor spaces to enable to remain physical active and healthy as they age.

Blackwood Homes and Care is working with residents and nine expert partner organisations in industry and academia to develop the Neighbourhoods for Independent Living in Dundee, Glasgow, and Moray.

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The residents in each neighbourhood will have their own focus with an emphasis on community involvement and choice over their own lives as well as co-designing and testing a range of innovations to support healthy ageing. Residents offer their support by taking part, using their own data to build the best programme for healthy ageing.

Creating 10 new jobs, the programme has been awarded £6 million from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding as part of the ‘Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund / Healthy Ageing Challenge’ with a further £6.5 million of contributions from Blackwood and industry partners.

Blackwood Homes and Care builds upon existing award-winning work in developing the accessible Blackwood House and CleverCogs digital system. It will work with residents and partners to enable people to live independently, including new homes, a design guide to improve upgrading accessibility and adaptations of existing homes as well as future home design.

Together with partners, the work will include accessible outdoor spaces so that people can sustain physical activity, supported by digital connectivity and infrastructure that helps security and ethical data control. Sustainable energy and transport will aim to reduce community carbon footprint and reduce transport costs. Individual coaching and support will help people maintain their health and wellbeing. Blackwood aims to include a value exchange model that encourages and rewards community participation.

Fanchea Kelly, Chief Executive at Blackwood, said: “While Blackwood has a unique focus on design and innovation for independent living, this funding takes us into an exciting future, where we can support more older people and people with disabilities to live their life to the full.

“What we are proposing at our three neighbourhoods will effectively create communities of the future, providing what we hope is a blueprint for great places to be as people grow older. We want Scotland to be the best place to grow older and we believe the best way to do that is to listen to residents and design solutions with expert partners to respond to what they want.

“With the UKRI funding, we’ll be able to work with our partners on further predictive tools, for example, building on our existing Smart Metering project (SMILE) where people can use their data to flag any concerning changes in patterns and prevent further vulnerability.”

The neighbourhoods will offer a ‘value exchange model’ to encourage and reward community participation, with additional coaching and support to help residents maintain their health, wellbeing, and independence as they age.

Blackwood has already built two developments of innovative “Blackwood Homes” in Glasgow and Dundee.

These are accessible and beautiful “smart” properties, designed to remove any obstacles that can disrupt daily life for older people and people with disabilities. They come equipped with electronic sliding doors, electric blinds, rise and fall surfaces, cupboards and sinks, and a self-cleaning toilet.

Blackwood’s CleverCogs digital system enables clients to organise their services, care and medical appointments, stay in touch with family and friends via video calls, and listen to music and entertainment.  For clients living in Blackwood Homes, the system can also be used to control everything from lighting and heat to opening doors and blinds.

The respected nine partner organisations working with Blackwood on the project are Canon Medical Research Europe, Carebuilder UK, CENSIS, Cisco International, Enterprise Rent-a-Car UK, Lewis & Hickey Architects, Mydex CIC, The DataLab, and The University of Edinburgh.

The project is one of five ‘trailblazer’ projects that will share £23 million from UKRI funding as part of the ‘Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund / Healthy Ageing Challenge’.

UKRI in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.

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