This section reports on tenants’ experiences during the product testing phase of the project and lessons learnt about how information communication technology (ICT) can aid independence amongst elderly and/or disabled people.
In research conducted earlier in the project, tenants’ most common concern as stated in their own words was "independence".
With these needs in mind, tenants were provided with ICT solutions that would indeed help them maintain their independence and assist their friends and families in fulfilling their support roles. Daily use of ICT was the most significant theme that emerged from the pilot. Overall, tenants emphasised that the ICT solutions related to safety and security were some of the most useful because they offered direct help for pressing concerns.
ICT and tenant independence
Tenants tested a number of health-related ICT products, and the benefits provided to them fell into two broad categories: improvements to their physical and mental health.
Participants were also positive about using ICT to communicate with friends, family, and the outside world.
Tenants said they enjoyed being able to access many forms of media through the tablet to which they did not previously have access.
Tenants said that the ability to consume digital media without the assistance of another person was an empowering and liberating experience.
Tenants learning ICTThe majority of tenants expressed apprehension about using ICT at the outset of the pilot. Tenants found the products generally useful for them. In various ways though, since some of the products are easier to approach and some required training. The conclusion is simpler for the tablet: several hours of explanations had to be spent with the tenants to make them understand how it works.
Tenants’ favouritesThe most popular ICT products with tenants were the tablet, door opener and door camera, wireless light switches, robotic hoover, stove guard, and activity tracker. This shows a strong preference towards products that helped tenants live what they called "a more normal life" by taking care of day-to-day tasks, as well as products that enhanced their feeling of safety and security.
At the conclusion of the pilot phase, a majority of tenants indicated that their experiences with ICT products and solutions have been overwhelmingly positive. More importantly, tenants reported that the ICT products they have learned to use have had a positive impact on the areas of concern described to housing organisations in previous research. Tenants had said that their most significant concerns were about getting around, mental health, caring for themselves and their homes, and their health. Throughout the pilot, tenants have indicated that the tested ICT products have had a positive impact in all of these areas of living. They have also indicated that the products had a positive effect on their independence.