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Connected Living: How technology can help Europe care for its communities at home

01 Sep 2022Digital Society
4 minute read

Around the world, our healthcare systems are coming under increasing pressure.

According to the World Health Organisation, the global number of people with cognitive and/or physical disabilities is “dramatically increasing”. This is due to an ageing population and increases in chronic health conditions.

In addition, the number of people in Europe over the age of 65 is expected to surge over the next 30 years. In 2021, this demographic constituted 21% of the population, and by 2050 it is projected to increase to 34% (150m people).

When someone’s health declines, the pressure it puts on family and friends can lead to the difficult decision to move a loved one to a care home. And while it's sometimes the only viable option, the financial cost to a family or local authority is substantially larger for care homes than for at-home care – almost three times more on average.

Using technology, we’re hoping to alleviate that pressure by supporting people to live more independently at home for longer.

Fostering socio-economic progress

When we created Vodafone’s social enterprise – Vodafone Business Ventures – in 2019, we set out to address some of the most pressing social challenges of our time.

Using our technological capabilities, partnerships and talented workforce, we identified how we could make an impact on our communities, with a particular focus on social care and education.

Both are complex problems to solve but, through technology, we are reimagining the way public services are delivered, to foster socio-economic progress that embraces everyone.

 In the care sector, digital tools need to be:

  • Accessible – to enable those with disabilities and lower levels of digital literacy to use them
  • Inclusive – designed for both care givers and receivers
  • Efficient – able to support care workers’ productivity
  • Low cost – more cost-effective than other options, such as care homes or increased domiciliary care.
Healthcare systems
An app for independence

We thought long and hard about how we could leverage our capabilities to meet these needs and improve the lives of care givers and receivers, while supporting councils to care for the entire community.

The solution we came up with is Connected Living, an app providing digital care for assisted living. The app connects the key people in a circle of care, offering independence and safety to care receivers along with peace of mind to care givers.

It enables care receivers to carry out everyday tasks with greater independence in the comfort of their own homes. Multiple features such as schedules, reminders and one touch video calling ensure that care receivers feel empowered and safe while making it easy for care givers to provide optimised care, both in-person and remotely.

The Connected Living app has the power to improve the provision of care from anywhere. Delivered via a simple app for mobiles and tablets, it is easy to set up and can be adjusted and personalised to the needs and surroundings of individual care receivers.

We initially worked with Mencap to design and trial the app, which was then customised by people with learning disabilities and their carers and piloted over 12 months across 37 UK locations, with over 120 users and 280 devices.

Centre for Health

From our initial trial with Mencap, nearly three-quarters of those with a learning disability said they experienced an improved quality of life after using the Connected Living app. Nearly two-thirds said they were able to live more independently, completing everyday tasks more comfortably, easily or quickly, and 89% of support workers included Connected Living in their support plans.

But we want to take it further. Our ambition is to engage with other local authorities facing similar challenges – we want to support them in improving quality of care outcomes. We are currently undergoing pilots with several other authorities and care organisations, including Dorset Council and Forge House Care in the UK, and the Municipality of Trikala in Greece.

Looking toward a healthier, more connected Europe

To accelerate our progress, last year, Vodafone and Deloitte joined forces to create the Centre for Health. Our objective was to create new connected health solutions, improving access to healthcare and creating better patient experiences across Europe.

Our goal for Centre for Health is “healthcare everywhere”, empowering health self-management and care in the community.

As a purpose-led company, Vodafone is committed to taking real steps towards this ambition, harnessing our best talent, technological capabilities, and dynamic partnerships to create real solutions for every community.

  • Apps
  • Connectivity
  • Consumers
  • Digital Society
  • Digitalisation
  • Europe
  • Inclusion

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