Revolutionary Blackwood technology keeps vulnerable adults safe overnight



Blackwood director Angela Currie

An innovative project that uses transformative new technology is being hailed as a landmark moment in the care of disabled people who want to continue to live independent lives.

The Night Support Service (NSS), set up by housing and care provider Blackwood, allows people with a wide range of disabilities to remotely access care to safely 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.

And interest in the project is expected to spread to other local authority areas as the success and the financial benefits of the scheme – linked to the reduced need to employ staff staying overnight - become known.

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 the hours of 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.

Thanks to the NSS, 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, Blackwood Housing and Care director, 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 customers.

The customers 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 addition 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.”

Angela added: “The NSS offers both incredible care and financial benefits. We’ve seen that thanks to the feedback from customers and the huge savings it produces.

“It has now successfully replaced staff sleepovers and customers feel less isolated while also improving their digital skills.

“We have been able to respond to more than 3,300 calls which have resulted in only 200 cases in which a staff member has physically gone out to provide care, showing the strength of care that the system is able to provide remotely.

“Every one of our customers using the NSS gets a personal care plan and a six monthly review to ensure they are totally happy with the service they receive.”

Tags: Blackwood



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