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Live Labs Blog: Adult social care - the fifth white paper

7 December 2021

To complement the release of Adult Social Care, our fifth white paper, Live Labs Programme Director Giles Perkins details how two Live Labs have been able to expand the scope of their trials and deliver wider social benefits beyond the traditional remit of the highways industry.

The ADEPT Live Labs programme was established to find innovative solutions to some of the issues faced on local roads, transport networks and by the environment. At its core, the programme is driven by positive collaboration between the private and public sectors and a commitment to transparency, as our white papers have demonstrated. We hope these values will allow others to take advantage of the findings and lessons learned to implement successful future innovation projects.

Buckinghamshire’s ‘SMART Connected Community’ and the ‘A Smarter Suffolk’ Live Lab projects both identified an opportunity to apply their research and innovation trials to the adult social care sector, demonstrating the value of knowledge-sharing across local authority departments and most importantly, providing much needed support to some of society’s most vulnerable individuals. 

Adult Social Care describes the trials being undertaken by the Buckinghamshire and Suffolk Live Labs to enable vulnerable people to live with greater independence for longer. It also seeks to address the most significant impediment to a wider rollout of data-driven adult social care solutions: public hesitancy toward the gathering of personal health data. 

The White Paper was developed following a round table discussion with Suffolk County Council’s Brigitte Sodano-Carter, and Luciano Lopes and Paul Waite of Buckinghamshire County Council.

In Buckinghamshire, the Aylesbury MESH network, which uses sensors and nodes built into street lighting to collect and transfer data, is being used to support the installation of home hub sensors and the use of wearable devices. Together, this technology can keep track of a person’s mood, their movements and some of their household habits such as bathroom breaks, keeping note of signs of deteriorating health and ensuring they can be found quickly if lost or hurt when away from home.

Similarly, the Suffolk Live Lab recognised that the sensor technology used by their long-range wide area network (LoRaWAN) could be replicated around the house: sensors could monitor daily routines and pick up on deviations, detect faults such as water or carbon monoxide leaks, and notify carers to investigate such issues if and when they occur. This type of on-demand care would allow vulnerable people to live more freely, only requiring access to a carer when the situation required it.

The learnings, outcomes and conclusions from each Live Lab can help to set and achieve policy objectives at national and local levels, whether it be in the highways industry or beyond. On the surface, one might not easily recognise a connection between enhanced street lighting infrastructure and transformative adult social care solutions, yet this White Paper acts as a useful demonstration of the benefits of cross-sector knowledge sharing. 

Although the projects discussed in Adult Social Care have been planned and implemented with local needs in mind, the aim of the trials is to test out innovations and technologies that can be transferable to other local authorities up and down the country, making a marked improvement to the lives of our most at-risk citizens nationwide.

You can find the Adult Social Care white paper here.