Vodafone and Mencap, the UK’s leading learning disability charity, have launched ‘Connected Living’ – a pioneering initiative connecting over 30 supported living homes using the smart home Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
The project features connected smart-home IoT technology as well as a bespoke app that inspires greater independence, choice and accessibility to people with a learning disability, as well as meeting the needs of support workers who support them.
Co-designed by Vodafone, support workers and people with learning disabilities living in Mencap’s supported living services, Connected Living was piloted successfully over 12 months in locations across Hampshire, Sussex, Somerset, Cornwall, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk. The collaborative partnership has involved people with a learning disability, support workers and service managers. It combines Vodafone’s expertise in IoT and connectivity with Mencap’s experience of improving the quality of life for people with a learning disability.
The pilot focused on how to make everyday activities – such as household tasks, time planning and socialising – easier. Technologies, including a range of user-friendly, intuitive IoT enabled devices were installed in Mencap supported living homes controlled by a bespoke app, called Vodafone MyLife. Unlike standalone devices including GPS trackers or fall detectors, the MyLife app offers a simple user interface that is integrated and accessible via a single tablet. It gives Mencap’s clients control of their smart devices, while also enabling their support workers to have remote access. In addition, the Vodafone MyLife app allows users to create visual guides for everyday tasks and a host of other features such as:
My Room – enables residents to manage smart plugs, smart locks and smart lights via the app.
How To – allows residents and support workers to create visual guides for everyday tasks.
My Day – is a personalised diary management tool that enables users to create daily reminders for everyday tasks.
My Talk – provides those with speech problems another way to communicate, via personalised images, text and a speech function.
Call Support – allows prompt remote support via a digital ‘panic button’ that allows two-way video calling between residents and support workers with one touch.
To-Do List – enables tenants to create easy to manage ‘to do’ lists to encourage them to carry out and tick off tasks throughout the day.
My Front Door – enables residents to answer their front door and check who is calling from anywhere in the house.
Other IoT technologies trialled include:
Activity Sensors – which detect unexpected movement and alert support workers.
Smart Locks – which can be used to provide residents privacy and a sense of security in their own rooms.
Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK said: “I am incredibly proud of this project and excited by what it means for the way people with learning disabilities will be able to live their lives in the future. It has been developed in partnership between Vodafone, Mencap and, most importantly of all, those with learning disabilities themselves. The project aims to give those living with a learning disability greater independence and a better quality of life. It really demonstrates the power of technology to change people’s lives for the better”.
Steve Baker, Operations Director from Mencap said: “There are more than 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK and they face inequalities in every area of their life. They are more likely to live in poverty, be isolated, less likely to be in employment and often don’t have access to technology, which is a barrier in itself. Day-to-day tasks, which many of us take for granted can be a real struggle. Technology can provide simple solutions to enable them to take control and have greater independence and that really makes a difference. We are committed to improving the lives of people with a learning disability – we don’t want them to be left out and we know that in an increasingly digital world, we need to be innovative about our approach. It was important to us to make this a truly collaborative project – that the people we support ended up with something truly bespoke that gave them exactly what they needed. This wasn’t about off-the-shelf tech – so as world leaders in IoT, Vodafone was the perfect partner. The most rewarding thing has been to see it working and the life-changing impact it can have for the people we support and their support workers, who do such an amazing and challenging job.”
Amit Chakrabarti, Head of Vodafone Business Ventures said: “Vodafone Business Ventures was created to enable us to work with a range of partners to incubate and commercialise innovative propositions that have a strong social impact and bring them to market. Connected Living is a great example of what can be achieved when working with partners like Mencap, co-designing and adapting existing products and services to fit the specific needs of a user group, delivering a visible difference in the quality of life including greater independence and accessibility”.