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New research project examines Orbit’s use of digital health services

Housing provider, Orbit, is providing digital wellbeing services within its Independent Living and sheltered housing schemes to be used as part of a research project that aims to co-create the first industry standards for environmental sustainability in the delivery of health technology in the home.

As part of a unique partnership, which includes digital telecare and Technology Enabled Care (TEC) firm, Appello, NHS Digital, University College London’s Tomorrow’s Home 2050 project and a team of interdisciplinary researchers from the University of Sussex, the University of Manchester, Anglia Ruskin University and Imperial College London; the project will look at how digital technology has changed the way that people access healthcare and the environmental sustainability of such technologies in the way that they are designed, manufactured and used in people’s homes. 

With funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the research project aims to understand the environmental impact of digital technologies and services for health and wellbeing in the home, such as video intercom systems and telecare, including in specialised housing for elderly people.

Orbit has been working with Appello since 2020 to introduce digital warden call and telecare equipment into its Independent Living and sheltered housing schemes. The outcomes and feedback from residents about how they use the systems will feed into the research.

Tom Leon-Grimes, Service Development Manager for Orbit, explains: “We have received excellent feedback from our customers about the digital warden system, especially about its ease to use which is imperative if older residents are to start adopting it in their day-to-day lives. The added security and peace of mind provided through the video door entry system has been very important to our customers and their families, and the video calling between properties is a great way to share updates and information. Some customers have also said it has helped them with feelings of isolation by being able to speak to friends and family virtually, giving a boost to their wellbeing, which has been a real positive – particularly through the pandemic.

“As part of our wider strategy to enhance our customer services digitally, we want to make assistive technology easier to access and understand for our customers in order to improve their health and wellbeing, but also to understand and mitigate the environmental impact of services. We hope this project will help us to achieve that.”

The research will provide insight into how environmental sustainability can be embedded responsibly in homes, through the built environment; through intermediary health providers and through the ways in which users encounter digital interventions. The aim is to co-create the first industry standards for environmental sustainability in the delivery of digital health intervention, in order to contribute to the larger goal of lowering global emissions.

For more information about the project visit: https://www.sussex.ac.uk/business-school/research/centres-projects/environmental-impacts-of-digitalisation