Fit Homes the key to independent living
Modular housing pioneer, Carbon Dynamic, has welcomed the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, to its Invergordon factory where it’s currently developing Saltire Award-winning ‘Fit Homes’ in partnership with Albyn Housing Society and NHS Highland.
The Minister, who supported this year’s Saltire Awards event where the partnership picked up the Innovation in Housing prize, toured the facility with project leaders and viewed the homes in advance of them being transported to Alness and installed with the latest sensors and Internet of Things technology this autumn.
The homes, which could potentially transform the relationship between health and housing by helping to prevent episodes or events leading to ill health through data capture and health analytics, were developed through co-design with partners, tenants and health and care professionals, making the project the first of its kind to be developed in the UK and possibly, the world.
The Minister also had the opportunity to view prototype units for a ground breaking project being led by Social Bite which aims to deliver 10 two-bedroom homes creating a homeless village in Edinburgh in time for Christmas. The first prototype will be on display in Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square throughout the duration of the Festival.
Speaking of the projects and his visit to the Carbon Dynamic factory, the Minister said: “This government is committed to tackling homelessness and we will continue to work with a range of partners, not just in housing but in other areas such as health, to address the underlying causes of homelessness, including for disabled people. It is one of our ambitions that disabled people in Scotland should live life to the full in homes built or adapted to enable them to participate as full and equal citizens.
“These projects are excellent examples of partners working together to achieve suitable housing to meet particular needs, providing people with high-quality support in a safe and secure home environment.”
Matt Stevenson, Managing Director at Carbon Dynamic, said: “It has been fantastic to welcome the Minister to Invergordon and show him the wide range of projects we currently have in development, all of which have been created to deliver social and environmental impact.”
“The visit has also given us the opportunity to demonstrate our work to develop a fully digitised process, which includes our use of Virtual and Augmented Reality. By driving efficiency, innovation and progress in the circular economy, this approach could transform the industry, should it be adopted more widely.”
Alongside Matt, the project is being led by Lucy Fraser, Head of Innovation at Albyn Housing Society, in partnership with Dr Angus JM Watson, Director of Research and Development at NHS Highland.
Lucy added: “By combining innovations in modular construction, digital technology and health and social care, we believe the Fit Home provides a sustainable model that will not only have the potential to prevent episodes or events leading to ill health, they could enable people to live independently in their communities for longer. The aging population is set to have an enormous impact on the way health and social care is delivered, but ultimately, we need to ensure people can enjoy living well at home for as long as possible. Technology, innovation and collaboration can enable us to achieve this.”
The pilot phase of the Fit Home project – 16 homes at Dalmore in Alness, Ross-shire – will provide proof of concept. The project concepts are being supported by a Scottish Government housing grant and funding from the Inverness-Highland City-Region Deal, whilst researchers at the University of the Highlands and Islands will develop the proof of concept research with financial support from the Digital Health and Care Institute.
Leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson commented: “One of the aims of the City-Region Deal is to establish innovative assisted living schemes incorporating the latest healthcare technology to enable elderly people to continue to live as independently as possible in their communities. The Fit Home project will be fundamental to this.”
The Data Lab – the Scottish Innovation Centre charged with generating economic, social and scientific value from big data – is also supporting the project by funding research into predicting falls, which is being led by Professor Susan Craw, an Artificial Intelligence expert at Robert Gordon University.