An innovative house showcasing a range of assistive technology to support independent living has been launched at a school in Liverpool. The project is the result of a unique partnership between St Vincent’s School, NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Hft, a national charity supporting people with learning disabilities across the UK to live the best life possible.
The smarthouse is a self-contained flat which showcases a variety of personalised assistive technology and how it can be used to support people with visual impairments and other disabilities to live more independently.
It includes lots of useful gadgets for daily living such as a one-cup kettle, a talking microwave, safety sensors to prevent flooding or injury, and door locks activated by fingerprint recognition which replaces the need for keys.
It was donated to St Vincent’s specialist school which is located in the West Derby area of Liverpool by NHS Liverpool CCG, having spent a number of years on display at the Museum of Liverpool as part of the city’s ‘Mi More Independent’ project.
Having worked in partnership with Liverpool CCG for several years, and because of their expertise in using technology to support people with learning disabilities, Hft was asked to project-manage the re-configuration of the smarthouse facility for the school, with a specific focus on supporting those with visual impairments.
The smarthouse will now be based at the school as a permanent fixture, supporting pupils and staff at the school directly, as well as continuing to be used as a community resource to help raise wider awareness of the benefits of assistive technology amongst the general public.
Hft’s specialist Personalised Technology team hosted tours of the smarthouse during the launch event to demonstrate how personalised healthcare technology can help enhance the lives of people with visual impairments and other disabilities.
Sarah Weston, Hft’s Innovation Manager said: “Hft has worked in partnership with Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group for a number of years now to highlight the positive impact that assistive technology can have on people’s lives. This project is a great example of that partnership approach.
“Assistive technology can benefit anyone, and we’ve been delighted to share our knowledge and expertise in this area with St Vincent’s School, while learning from them about the needs of people with visual impairments. Together we have been able to combine our knowledge to demonstrate practically how technology can be used to support this group to live with a greater level of independence.”
Future plans for the facility include opportunities for students to benefit from hosting community open events and tours around the smarthouse to members of their local community - making it a truly unique educational experience.
Dr Simon Bowers, Chair of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “At Liverpool CCG we are absolutely thrilled to be able to donate our smarthouse equipment to St Vincent’s School. The smarthouse is a really fantastic educational resource, and I can’t think of a more suitable home for it in Liverpool, because I know it will benefit students at the school for many years to come, as well as their teachers, their families, and the wider local community.”
He adds: “If you’ve never seen a smarthouse before, I would definitely recommend a visit to explore around it at its new home – especially if you, or someone you know, might be able to benefit from assistive technology to help make everyday life a little bit easier.”
Dr John Patterson, Principal at St Vincent’s School said: “The smarthouse is a wonderful space to engage children in innovation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning.”
Hft is a national charity supporting more than 2,500 adults with learning disabilities across England to live the best life possible. Established in 1962, the charity uses its own unique Fusion Model to consistently deliver high quality, person-centered support across all its services.
Services range from supported living to residential care – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.
For more information about Hft please visit www.hft.org.uk