TV screens used to keep in touch

Residents of an extra care scheme for older people in Tyne & Wear are among the first to trial a unique tool that allows personalised messages to be targeted through their televisions.

Housing 21, a leading provider of housing and care services and digital media specialists i-Spy Digital have installed the exciting Care Messenger solution onto TVs in a number of apartments at Winton Court in Winlaton. The idea is that personal messages from healthcare professionals, carers or family members - such as appointment reminders, activity announcements and medication prompts – can be sent via mobile phones or through a web portal which then pop up on the recipient’s television screen.

Victoria Barclay, Regional Operations Director for Housing 21 said: “This is a revolutionary communication tool for assisted living and Housing 21 is delighted to be at the forefront in trialling this new solution.  For many older people modern technologies such as mobile phones, computers and the internet have passed them by, but the television is something they feel familiar and comfortable with.

“Now staff can send out reminders about events, tell people what’s on the lunch menu or advise what the weather’s like today – the possibilities are endless. We’re very excited at the potential provided by Care Messenger service in helping to combat loneliness and isolation, increasing levels of reassurance and in encouraging independence.”

Each resident uses their own TV connected to a set top box which provides a full range of TV channels and internet connection. The i-Spy™ software is pre-installed on the set top box and assigns a unique ID to each user. The user receives personalised ID cards which they can then distribute to their family and friends.

Jon Lowe, Chairman of i-Spy Digital said: “Housing 21 has a reputation for innovation and leading on new technologies, and we are delighted to be working with them on this ground-breaking development. We believe that Care Messenger will not only improve the efficiency and quality of care delivered by housing associations and care providers, but make a major difference to the sense of inclusion, quality of life, and well-being of tenants.”

The i-Spy server acts as a gateway for the routing of messages and other information to the TV for overlay display or for storage on the set top box for later viewing. Users can open or close message boxes or choose from a number of responses, which can be linked to a call centre or database monitoring activity, triggering a phone call or visit as required.

The 12 month trial in the homes of the extra care residents started in November. The next phase, which will begin this month, will see the trial extended to Housing 21’s care customers living in the local community.