Albyn Housing Society project shortlisted for top innovation award

Artist's impressions of the interior of a ‘FIT Home’
Artist’s impression of the interior of a ‘FIT Home’

A groundbreaking Highland project that could transform the lives of people with complex health needs by combining modular home design and ‘Internet of Things’ technology has been shortlisted for the prestigious Saltire Society award for innovation in housing.

Led by a unique partnership between Albyn Housing Society, Carbon Dynamic and NHS Highland, the project will see the development of Fit Homes, which will host various levels of sensoring designed to capture data and associated predictive health analytics.

Developed through co-design with partners, potential tenants and health and care professionals, this ground breaking approach could potentially help prevent episodes or events leading to ill health as well as enable the NHS to support more people at home, prevent hospital admissions and enable hospital discharge.

Now in their 80th year, the Saltire Society Housing Design Awards celebrate excellence and achievement in Scottish house building and place-making. This year’s winners will be announced in Edinburgh on June 2` by guest chair Dame Seona Reid and Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government and housing.

Speaking of the shortlisting, Lucy Fraser, head of innovation at Albyn Housing Society, said: “The central concept of these high-quality, sustainable homes is that they will include ambient, physiological and building sensors to collect data that can be monitored and responded to by a variety of agencies – potentially transforming the way health and social care is delivered as populations across the globe continue to grow older.

“We are very excited to have been shortlisted for the Saltire Society’s Innovation in Housing Award as this acknowledges the enormous potential of the Fit Homes project, which we have worked extremely hard to bring to life over the past three years. Our world is changing, our population is changing, and we need to completely rethink how we support communities and deliver services in the digital age.”

Fit Home Plans CGIProfessor Angus J M Watson, director of research, development and innovation at NHS Highland, said: “We’re really excited to be through to the Saltire Awards final and to see the work of our collaboration become reality.

“Integrating homes with health is key to this project. Using our population to ‘crowd source’ the design of the homes is highly novel and puts tenants at the centre of this program.”

Matt Stevenson, managing director at Carbon Dynamic, added: “The project also delivers exceptional social and environmental impact, which is precisely what the Saltire Awards aim to promote. Fit Homes are low energy, built from sustainable and natural materials and highly adaptable to the changing needs of their residents.

“Our progress to-date has been inspiring and we look forward to taking this project to the next stage and building on the unique collaboration between Albyn, NHS Highland and Carbon Dynamic.”

The pilot phase – 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.

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.

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