The smarthouse project is the result of a unique partnership between St Vincent’s School, Liverpool CCG, and Hft, a national charity supporting people with learning disabilities across the UK to live the best life possible.
The smarthouse is a self-contained flat which showcases a variety of personalised assistive technology and how it can be used to support people with visual impairments and other disabilities to live more independently.
It includes lots of useful gadgets for daily living such as a one-cup kettle, a talking microwave, safety sensors to prevent flooding or injury, and door locks activated by fingerprint recognition which replaces the need for keys.
Liverpool CCG donated the equipment to St Vincent’s, a Specialist School for Sensory Impairment and Other Needs in West Derby. It was previously displayed at the Museum of Liverpool as part of the city’s ‘Mi More Independent’ project.
Having worked in partnership with Liverpool CCG for several years, and because of their expertise in using technology to support people with learning disabilities, Hft was asked to project-manage the re-configuration of the smarthouse facility for the school, with a specific focus on supporting those with visual impairments.
The smarthouse will now be based at the school as a permanent fixture, supporting pupils and staff at the school directly, as well as continuing to be used as a community resource to help raise wider awareness of the benefits of assistive technology.
Sarah Weston, Hft’s Innovation Manager said:
“Hft has worked in partnership with Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group for a number of years now to highlight the positive impact that assistive technology can have on people’s lives. This project is a great example of that partnership approach.
“Assistive technology can benefit anyone, and we’ve been delighted to share our knowledge and expertise in this area with St Vincent’s School, while learning from them about the needs of people with visual impairments. Together we have been able to combine our knowledge to demonstrate practically how technology can be used to support this group to live with a greater level of independence.”
Future plans for the facility include opportunities for students to benefit from hosting community open events and tours around the smarthouse to members of their local community - making it a truly unique educational experience.
Dr Simon Bowers, Chair of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“At Liverpool CCG we are absolutely thrilled to be able to donate our smarthouse equipment to St Vincent’s School. The smarthouse is a really fantastic educational resource, and I can’t think of a more suitable home for it in Liverpool, because I know it will benefit students at the school for many years to come, as well as their teachers, their families, and the wider local community.”
“If you’ve never seen a smarthouse before, I would definitely recommend a visit to explore around it at its new home – especially if you, or someone you know, might be able to benefit from assistive technology to help make everyday life a little bit easier.”
Dr John Patterson, Principal at St Vincent’s School added:
“The smarthouse is a wonderful space to engage children in innovation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning.”