A new job for HIAs?

This blog was written by Paull Robathan, Chairman at South Petherton Hospital League of Friends and Doctoral Candidate at University of the West of England (UWE).

This is something that has been building up a head of steam in my brain as I get towards the end of my PhD at UWE on Housing and Health. It is clear that as the population gets older and technology gets more user-focussed (although not necessarily friendly) more and more of the growing legion of less able people will want or will be directed towards technology as a way of addressing a range of issues from loneliness to online shopping.

In our community in South Somerset I have over the years been Leader of the District Council, Chair of the Local Strategic Partnership, non-Exec on the local hospital trust, board member of a major housing association and more particularly as Chair of the Parish Council, one of the founders of an initiative in our village that is getting quite a lot of traction - devolving personal care and health support to local people through the South Petherton Community Partnership.

There are lots of places to go for support on services (John Lewis maintain a list of approved contractors for example) but for little IT tasks - like linking your Alexa to your carer's shopping list on her iPhone - there only seem to be two options, call your grandson of age seven upwards or rely on organisations that really want to sell you something to make a profit.

An alternative could look like a matching service, with quality assurance for home-based residents who need IT support for linking mobile phones / tablets, activity monitors, security cameras, light switch activators, Amazon Echo / Google Home, Careline etc.

It’s needed everywhere, but I suspect rural areas would be harder to fulfil. There’s potential to link with mobile phone companies / Internet of Things companies (IBM?) for  sponsorship. A real opportunity for Home Improvement Agencies?

It could also be a big thing - aka UK Citizen Service - thousands of young people giving to their local community, getting training for the workplace from suppliers and serving a period as an available resource to local social workers etc.