Angela Currie, Housing and Care Director at Blackwood

Housing and care provider Blackwood has launched a new innovative project to help keep disabled people safe and independent at night.

The Night Support Service (NSS) allows people with a wide range of disabilities to remotely access care to maintain their confidence throughout the night.

The new facility is currently used by 17 people at Blackwood’s Laura Fergusson Court development in Edinburgh, with aims to increase this number to 35.

On top of the estimated £400,000+ savings, the service has also resulted in numerous other tangible benefits, including a reduction in the number of GP visits and a significant drop in the number of calls to 999.

The Blackwood initiative allows customers to access care support via video calls with expert staff from 10pm to 7am. It works as part of the innovative CleverCogs system, a service that allows disabled people to live independently in their own home with a touch screen hub which can perform a host of actions, from remotely opening blinds, to connecting with family and friends.

A centrally located staff team can answer video calls from customers with any concerns and from there, the experts can assess the situation just as they would do in person.

Angela Currie, Housing and Care Director at Blackwood, said: “The NSS commissioned by the Health and Social Care Partnership is a landmark moment in the provision of care in Edinburgh.

“It is no surprise that other local authorities are looking at the value and quality of replicating the service in their areas.

“It extends the range of options available to people who need support at night and helps them maintain their independence while also helping to increase digital inclusion and reduce issues around loneliness.

“We’ve already had stories from customers who have been impressed by the technology, with many acknowledging that it enables them to have more freedom while also having the safety net of expert care, as our staff can provide a physical response to customers within 10 minutes.”

The NSS care staff work in exactly the same way as their daytime counterparts and build up a rapport and relationship with their client. The clients will know the person who is on the other end of the video call and it allows for planned visits to developments as well as a vital service in case of emergencies.

As well as the benefits to care provision, the NSS in Edinburgh also helps to offset the additional costs faced by the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership as a result of the EU directive which relates to the changes in minimum wage for night time working.

The current cost for a staff member to sleepover with a customer is £81 per night, however, a night of NSS support costs just £17.

So far, the system has resulted in savings of in excess of £400,000 for the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership in the 18 months the project has been in place.

Cllr Ricky Henderson, Chair of Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, said: “We welcome this innovative approach to delivering safe and effective person-centred care to people who need a bit more help to live independently.

“We know that often people need additional reassurance and the ability to contact someone quickly, rather than having someone in their home 24/7 and this is a really innovative way to do that. Using technology linked directly to professionals at the other end can make sure tenants have the support they need, when they need.”

Founded in 1972 by Dr Margaret Blackwood, Blackwood designs accessible and affordable homes for disabled people. It has over 1,500 homes in 120 developments across all 29 mainland local authority areas in Scotland.

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