A robot cat and a humanoid 'huggie': Inside Peterborough council's 'smart flat' showcasing assistive technology
and live on Freeview channel 276
The flat, located on the bottom floor of extra care facility Kingfisher Court, is decked out with devices aimed at helping elderly and disabled people live independently.
While the surrounding flats, run by Cross Keys Homes, are occupied by residents, the smart flat is rented by PCC and open to visitors interested in assistive technology.
Not all of it is available from PCC, adults’ services and communities officer Geraldine Jinks explained, but it’s a demonstration of what’s available to buy for those who believe they’d benefit from it.
The cuddly cat, for instance, which moves as well as mews, and the puppies can be “comforting” to people who live on their own or have recently lost a pet, she said.
The “huggie”, displayed on the bed in the flat, has weighted arms and a mechanical heartbeat and can be similarly comforting, she added.
“One of our learning disability nurses always slept with her head on her mum’s chest and consequently her mum said she’d like to have a carer a couple of nights a week to have a break,” Ms Jinks said.
“The nurse took this out to trial it and for the very first time she fell asleep with the huggie instead. No care package was needed and it gave her mum a new lease of life.”
Also in the bedroom is a collection of lifelines, which connect elderly or disabled people to an operator and potentially onto emergency services if they have a fall or if their smoke or carbon monoxide detector is activated.
New WiFi lifelines have been “revelatory”, Ms Jinks said, as they can be connected to a person’s family instead, which is particularly helpful when that person doesn’t speak English.
Similar to a lifeline is an independent carer pager.
Ms Jinks said that she brought one of these to show a man who was the main carer to his disabled wife on a home visit.
“When I went to see them, he showed me all the woodturning he did and all the beautiful things he’d made,” she said. “But he said he doesn’t do it any more because all his tools are in the shed at the bottom of the garden and if his wife needed him, he wouldn’t be able to hear her.”
Ms Jinks said that she then gave him and his wife independent carer pagers, telling her to try activating it while he was in the shed to see whether he could hear it.
“He stepped out happy as larry,” she said, “and his wife said ‘thank goodness for that, he sits with me all day moaning about Loose Women and everything else’ and now he can get back to his hobby knowing she’s safe”.
Beneath the bed, meanwhile, is a motion-activated light in case an elderly person tries to get up in the night without switching a light on.
Over in the kitchen, there’s a one cup kettle, which can be used without a person having to pick it up, and radios with simplified buttons.
Throughout the rest of the flat there’s a plethora of leaflets and other assistive technologies, such as a smart watch with a GPS tracker and fall detector and Ring doorbells which record people approaching someone’s door.
There are also multiple medicine holders and dispensers, such as a medicine tipper, and a reminder clock which can be programmed to broadcast alerts.
Some of the items on display are, though, a little less technological.
There are also pill boxes labelled with different days of the week and a long-handed sponge for showering.
If you’re interested in visiting PCC’s smart flat, contact details for its adults’ social care team can be found on its website: Click here for link to Peterborough Information Network