HBVillages and Atel are at the forefront of developing bespoke supported living homes, delivering property and assistive technology solutions unique to our developments.

The background stems from local commissioners asking us to install assistive technology without really understanding what they were asking for.

Assistive technology is principally to give individuals more independence by enabling them to carry out day to day tasks without the need for third party help, via carers and support workers. It should also allow them to lead a less intrusive and more dignified life.

Whilst there are many individual products out there, there was a lack of a whole house provider of assistive technology that enables these objectives to be achieved. We found ourselves in a position where we had 20 different products supplied and installed by 20 different suppliers with 20 different numbers to call if there was a technical issue or fault. There was also a real lack of training from suppliers on specific equipment so it often gets installed and is then unused.

With this in mind we engaged the services of ATEL a specialist technology company who operated purely in the private sector, designing and installing bespoke systems for individuals who had acquired disabilities and were able to fund bespoke systems using negligence insurance awards.

ATEL’s background stems from this sector, its founder and CEO, Matthew Warnes was involved in a car accident some years ago, spent 5 years in hospital and is wheelchair bound. On leaving hospital Matthew wanted to live independently and designed a bespoke system for his own home that allowed him to manage his environment without the need for carers.

Matthew has been able to adapt this system and working in partnership with Tunstall has developed a unique model that designs, assesses each individual, installs, trains, supports and maintains assistive technology systems across the UK within HB Villages developments across the UK.

The system is integral to the building and can be broken down as follows:

Phase 1: Base build: This includes an integrated property solution to provide an interface between fire alarms, automated doors, CCTV and warden call system to allow the building to be managed in a more efficient and safe manner. In addition each apartment has an assistive technology enabling infrastructure that links into an individual control system and the central hub. This enabling work provides the necessary infrastructure for any item of assistive technology on the market to be supplied and connected through the lifetime of the building and different individuals.

If the building is not designed and built with the foresight of future proofing, to get the building to this level ensuring that the residents can live independently, benefit from social integration, assistive technology and environmental controls is virtually impossible.

If a system was to be retrofitted it would be expensive, disruptive, messy, time consuming and you could not offer the full benefits that you can when designing from a blank canvas. This investment has to be made at the build phase, it’s an “Invest to Save” policy that has to be adopted at this early stage to guarantee outcomes are achieved.

It is this base build and Assistive Technology enabling that heavily contributes to substantial savings from care budgets, we are currently promoting a 40% saving.

Phase 2: Assessment: On completion of each building ATEL’s Assistive Technologists work with social workers to assess each individual, once they are assessed needs are confirmed, ATEL work with the Local Authority to get the Assistive Technology funded, this is via a number of capital and grant programmes in partnership with the commissioning authorities.

This system can provide the following:

Stage 3: Bespoke Installation: Environmental controls: Access control, automation of doors and windows, curtains and blinds, television and source devices control. All managed by a recommended communication device with the correct control method that meets the needs of the individual’s disability. These can be switches (chin, pillow, sip & puff), touch screen, eye gaze or voice activated.

Sensors: door & window, epilepsy – both bed and Smart watch solutions, bed sensors that detect breathing and heart rate, medication dispenser sensor, fridge/freezer, oven, hob, water and motion sensors. These sensors can be set to report to the carer’s office on a screen/portal if certain sensors have not been activated by certain times.

This means that care staff can work more efficiently, if 14 out of the 16 apartments residents have vacated bed, used the WC, opened the fridge, used a kettle, taken medication and have left their apartment then carer staff know that this individual is ok. The 2 apartments that have displayed no movement can be the focus of the care team.

Without these systems/sensors the care staff need to check-in on each resident which takes approximately 20 minutes per person each morning, this would be at a collective cost of £70 per day, £25,549 on this one analogy alone.

Aids & Adaptations: each apartment has been designed to take additional pieces of equipment, for example the ceiling has been strengthened to span a ceiling track hoists.

Bathrooms have been designed so that the hoist can take someone from the bedroom to bathroom. If a standard porcelain toilets needs to be changed to suit the resident’s needs, i.e. an anti-ligature resin toilet or self-cleaning toilet, we have designed a fully adjustable concealed integrated panel system to make the upgrade seamless. To upgrade the toilet the original pan is removed and the new pan is installed, the cistern, flush mechanism can all remain in place.

Each apartment is equipped with a U-drain, this consists of an internal wall socket next to the user’s bed or automated Peritoneal Dialysis machine. Someone with a urostomy appliance or leg bag (or other appliance),can simply connect their appliance to the wall socket at night and disconnect in the morning - urine or dialysis fluid flows away during the night. This enables residents to sleep through the night without the need for carers to assist them in going to the toilet, which demonstrates a less intrusive and more dignified life.

Telehealth Peripherals: A large proportion of the residents living within HB Villages supported living schemes have one or more long term condition. As each apartment is enabled with a carefully designed infrastructure its simple for a resident to take their own Blood Pressure, Weight, Blood Glucose, Temperature and Peakflow with the aid of peripherals.

The residents Smart TV is a comprehensive all-in-one solution combining telehealth, health management, activity monitoring and social engagement. The resident can take a reading, this can populate the data into a form on the screen that can be forwarded daily/weekly to the Clinician/GP. If the GP then wants to speak directly to the resident a time can be arranged for a skype conference.

This improves the confidence of the residents/carer/family member due to a greater understanding of their condition. This puts the resident in control of their own health and wellbeing, making them feel empowered also in the knowledge that carers are in the background should they need to intervene. This enables early intervention and reduces admissions whilst improving quality of life.

Social integration: Access to Skype to share meaningful moments and to feel like you are there in the moment with family, surf the internet via a heavily subsidised, centrally managed Wifi system, being informed of job opportunities, what is going on in the community. The system has a web portal which promotes a safe environment for residents to manage individual budgets, pay bills, buy shopping, order prescriptions and book a taxi.

HB Villages are at the forefront of providing vulnerable adults with accommodation that not only saves the government purse but offers resident empowerment, social integration and dignity in a safe environment. This is achievable due to their foresight and making sure their buildings are future proofed at the base build stage.

To enable the necessary savings required by Government, HB Villages have to spend considerable amounts on Assistive Technology Enabling and ensuring all base build services are integrated. This foresight enables the necessary reduction in care costs to be achieved whilst giving an enhanced level of independence and maintaining wellbeing.

This is achieved via a combination of virtual care supplied by assistive technology; removing all menial tasks that technology can take care of and creating residents to become more independent allowing carers to spend their time to focus on person centred support.


Assistive Technology at Moorgate Mill, Blackburn
Assistive Technology at Moorgate Mill, Blackburn




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