Housing group scoops major industry award for digital inclusion

Fanchea kelly and shaun more of blackwood

Blackwood's Fanchea Kelly and Shaun More

‚ÄčInnovative use of technology recognised by industry 

10th May 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A housing association has won a major award for using technology to help people with disabilities live independent lives.

Edinburgh-based Blackwood Homes and Care took home a UK Housing Award  – the sector’s equivalent of the Oscars – winning the Outstanding Approach to Promoting Digital Inclusion category at a ceremony in London.  

Blackwood’s customers are traditionally among the most digitally excluded people in Scotland as a result of disabilities, age, or complex care needs.

It developed the CleverCogs system, a touchscreen home hub installed in customers’ properties, to digitally enable its customers. 

It allows tenants to enjoy benefits others take for granted, including entertainment, access to services and real-time communication with family and friends. It also strives to make Blackwood’s services more accessible and efficient.

Since rolling out the system an impressive 75% of users moved from being extremely digitally excluded to being more confident, less lonely with increased high levels of user engagement.

An initial test involved 100 customers with varying care and mobility needs across Dundee, Stirling, Ayr and Edinburgh. More than 100,000 interactions and 2,100 family and friends communications were made during this time.

Blackwood chief executive Fanchea Kelly paid tribute to Blackwood 500 staff whom she credited for winning the award.

She said: “The housing and care sectors are facing some of the toughest challenges we’ve ever seen. However, at the same time the leap forward we are seeing in technology is giving us tools to meet these challenges, while greatly improving how people can live life to the full.

“Since Blackwood was founded more than 40 years ago, we’ve been renowned for pushing the ways in which technology can help people with disabilities, age-related conditions or other impairments to live more independently.

“But in the past few years the way our staff have embraced and developed digital technologies to benefit our customers has been a step change. This award is a fitting recognition of that huge effort and commitment from the entire team.”

The annual UK Housing Awards are organised by Inside Housing and the category was fiercely contested. Judges were looking for an organisation that had done outstanding work to help customers get to grips with the digital world.

Kelly added: “We all know that necessity is the mother of invention. The challenging financial climate for the care and housing sectors means everyone is having to get more innovative. That’s what makes winning this award all the more gratifying.”