Technology stimulates social interaction in care homes

Hill House in Sandbach is home to 24 residents with a range of disabilities and communication needs. The care home is currently the focus of an exciting assistive technology project. The programme will see residents and staff engaging with new technologies to help increase independence and widen the range of opportunities for social interaction. 

Pure AV is working with Hill House on the development and implementation of solutions that use virtual reality, video conferencing and interactive technology to create new ways for residents to engage with staff, family, and each other.

David Hursthouse, assistive technology project manager, for Leonard Cheshire explained: “For me, one of the most critical parts of this project is improving social interaction opportunities. The new technologies are helping us to tackle loneliness, keep our residents connected and offer access to brand new experiences, all within the four walls of Hill House”. 

The core of the solution is a Clevertouch Impact Plus 55” display, mounted on an electrical, lift-and-tilt trolley to enable maximum accessibility for all users. A PC housed within the screen’s OPS slot, along with the addition of Apple TV and a Logitech Brio camera transforms the screen into both a hub for entertainment and a vital link to the world outside of Hill house.

To further enrich the experience for residents, Pure AV added a Redbox VR kit and 360O camera kit to the solution. The system allows residents to enjoy immersive, virtual tours of well-known buildings and landmarks, as well as the ability to create new VR content of their own. 

The team at Leonard Cheshire has been quick to adopt the new facilities. The inaugural event, a virtual tea party, coordinated with local stately home Arley Hall, offered a fantastic example of the solution in action. 

Unable to make the annual trip to Arley Hall, due to coronavirus, the technology instead brought the grounds and gardens of the Hall to the doorsteps of Hill House residents.

Thanks to the Pure AV installation, residents were able to enjoy to a personal video tour of the gardens, led by Lord and Lady Ashbrook, owners of Arley Hall, followed by the opportunity to take in 360O panoramic views of the grounds using the VR headsets. 

After the tour, Lord and Lady Ashbrook, along with TV gardener Mark Lane, then joined residents for a virtual tea party and a unique question and answer session over zoom.  

The virtual tea party is just one example of how the system is creating new ways for residents to explore and interact with the world around them. 

With interactive games nights and virtual audiobook clubs already running and many other social initiatives planned by Hill House staff, residents are already enjoying the new experiences the solution has opened to them. 

A critical part of the success of the project at Hill House is the team at Leonard Cheshire. Led by assistive technology project manager, David Hursthouse, they include therapists, staff and volunteers, all working together to help residents gain maximum benefit from the technology. 

David Hursthouse continues to work with Pure AV to evaluate the adoption of the technology at Hill House and evolve the solution as he prepares to take these facilities forward to other homes within the Leonard Cheshire group.

He concluded: “It’s been a pleasure working with Pure AV and seeing the impact the technology is already having on the lives of the people we support. These solutions offer a wide range of opportunities for disabled people and have been instrumental in improving the wellbeing of our residents during a very testing time. Pure AV listened closely to our requirements and offered a range of options that have broadened the opportunities for independence and social interaction for our residents."

Founded in 2003, the North-West based audiovisual integrator, Pure AV has a customer list including leading UK universities, museums and galleries, public sector and corporate clients. Examples of Pure AV activity can be found helping organisations and institutions to work and collaborate more effectively in meeting rooms, lecture halls and conference spaces. To find out more about the work of Pure AV, visit the Pure AV website

Leonard Cheshire is the leading UK disability charity – supporting individuals to live, learn and work as independently as they choose, whatever their ability. Find out more about the work of Leonard Cheshire and how you can support their activities here.