The Browns Wood Smart House is a new service from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust. It is designed for people who currently need some support, but wish to live independently on their own. After a short period of assessment in Thomas Edward Mitton House (TEM) they will move into the house. The aim will be to investigate the extent to which the up-to-the-minute technology in the house can support them, and to what extent they continue to need a support worker.

Once this assessment has been conducted BIRT can then help set up their own home (rented or owned) with the technology, and supply any support package needed to supplement this. The advantages for the individuals are much greater independence and privacy. For the service commissioner the advantages are lower costs, yet still reducing risks and providing a high quality way of life. At Browns Wood Smart House we use new technology to enable people to carry out tasks which they would otherwise be unable to do without the help of a support worker.

For example, electronic devices ensure that the oven and hob turn off automatically if left unattended; prompts are given to remind the service user to take their belongings when leaving the house; access to the building can be by finger print recognition, thus avoiding the need for a key; if the service user gets up in the middle of the night a verbal message is given to remind them that it is late and suggest they return to bed. The technology also:

service user working at a computer in the IT Suite of TEM House

  • Automatically operates window blinds
  • Disables electrical appliances at night
  • Automatically switches off a room radiator if a window is opened
  • Automatically cuts off central heating if the property is unoccupied

There must be a perfect match between user and technology. The aim of this service is to investigate the feasibility of technological solutions for people who can then be moved to their own homes with a combination of technological support and support workers. The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) aims to offer the best solution to meet the service users' needs in three steps:

Step 1:Neurobehavioural Rehabilitation Programme - service user is admitted to Thomas Edward Mitton House and works towards rehabilitation goals.

Step 2:Transitional Living Option in Smart House - if the service user may benefit from this option, they will be admitted to the Smart House at Browns Wood. Here, an assessment of their support needs will be carried out. These needs are likely to involve a combination of technology and personalised support.

Step 3:Once the needs of the service user are fully understood, and s/he is ready to move into her/his own home, BIRT will offer a combined package comprising technology and personal support, according to the individual's needs established in Step 2.

For those with limitations with dexterity or mobility, some aspects of this service will provide a safety net to reduce risk of harm; others will serve as reminders and prompts to overcome memory, executive or motivational problems. The service also includes regular follow-ups to track progress and adjust the technology to the user's changing needs as they arise.

Admission Criteria and Referrals

The Browns Wood Smart House service is suitable for individuals who:

Service user Meg playing pool in the recreation room at TEM House

  • want to live on their own
  • are aged over 18 years
  • have had a head injury (traumatic brain injury)
  • and/or have had encephalitis and / or CVA and / or had an anoxic brain injury
  • are medically stable
  • have primarily cognitive problems
  • need some ongoing support

How can I make a referral?

To make an intial enquiry or discuss a potential referral please contact the Service Manager at Thomas Edward Mitton House email thomas.edward@thedtgroup.org or telephone 01908 504778

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the technology like?

The technology consists of sensors which pick up movement but there are no cameras, nor any video of those living in the home. Voice prompts are triggered by specific information received from these sensors, so for example, if there is no movement in the kitchen and the cooker is left on, it will automatically be switched off. The fingerprint reader can be used instead of a key to gain entry to the house, and also to monitor whether the service user allows strangers in.

How does it help?

The technology in the house reduces a number of risks associated with the difficulties that arise after an acquired brain injury. As many of the items within the house are automated, you or your family member will be able to stay safe within the house and enjoy the privacy of your home.

How can I / my family member use this service?

Initially we need to determine whether the Smart House is suitable for an individual. The easiest way to do this is to contact the Service Manager at Thomas Edward Mitton Housein the first instance by email thomas.edward@thedtgroup.orgor telephone 01908 504778

Research

Research has shown that a good match between technology and user leads to:

  • Increased independence
  • Greater satisfaction
  • Reduced costs

We suggest the following articles for more information:

  • Boman, Tham, Granqvist, Bartfai & Hemmingsson (2007). Using electronic aids to daily living after acquired brain injury: A study of the learning process and the usability. Disability & Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 2, 23-33.
  • Brandt, Samuelsson, Toytari, Salminen (2010). Activity and participation, quality of life and user satisfaction outcomes of environmental control systems and smart home technology: A systematic review. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 5, 305-313.
  • Oddy & Ramos (in press). Cost effective ways of facilitating home based rehabilitation and support.NeuroRehabilitation
  • Lansley, McCredie & Tinker (2004). Can adapting the homes of older people and providing assistive technology pay its way? Age & Ageing, 33, 571-576
  • Orpwood, Adlam, Evans, Chadd & Self (2008). Evaluation of an assisted-living smart home for someone with dementia. Journal of Assistive Technologies,
    2, 13-21.