Fire Safety, Social Housing

3 ways technology can maximise fire safety for social housing tenants with dementia

Following this year’s Dementia Action Week, FireAngel’s National Account Director Claire O’Meara shares some perspectives on how today’s fire safety-centric technology can help safeguard tenants with dementia.

Dementia affects over 800,000 people in the UK, with that number estimated to reach two million by 2051. Common early symptoms include memory loss, difficulty in concentrating, confusion about time and place and finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks.

The older an individual is, the more likely they are to develop the condition. With more than a quarter of England’s social housing residents aged over 65, a significant proportion of tenants have been – or will be – affected by dementia.

When it comes to multiple occupation (HMOs), terraced homes and high-rise buildings, a major fire doesn’t just put the person with dementia at risk, but potentially hundreds of lives. Most people want to stay in their homes for as long as possible before moving to residential or specialist care, but that requires a safe environment in which to live with the right support.

In order to help keep social tenants with dementia safe and protect those who live around them, social housing providers need to ensure their properties provide comprehensive fire safety measures.

Implementing safeguarding measures

Social housing providers must adhere to standard practices such as completing a thorough and detailed risk assessment of the property and installing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors that are then frequently tested to ensure that they’re operating as they should.

Most social housing buildings that play host to multiple tenants have their own routes and practices for evacuating in the event of a fire, but industry experts are now looking very closely at individual evacuation plans for vulnerable residents following the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017.

The Phase One report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommended that “the owner and manager of every residential high-rise [should] be legally required to prepare personal emergency evacuation plans for all residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised.” Additionally, Dame Judith Hackitt’s ‘Building a Safer Future’ report recognised the need for provisions for the disabled and other potentially vulnerable people.

Turning to intelligent ways to cut fire risk

While evacuation plans are critical in the event of tenants needing to leave the building, there are also new and intelligent ways in which to help cut fire risk in social housing for tenants, building managers and landlords.

We take a closer look at three ways implementing connected technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) can maximise fire safety for social housing tenants with dementia…

1. Providing a holistic form of support

safeguarding tenants with dementia

Familiar technologies to many elderly tenants, such as panic buttons or fall detectors, can be combined with new sensors that build on traditional fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in a bid to provide holistic forms of support.

For example, in the event of a cooker fire, a traditional heat alarm would trigger once the fire has ignited and the temperature has already reached a hazardous level. However, installing a Stove Guard would effectively prevent cooker fires by intelligently switching electric cookers off before a fire can start.

2. Building a tailored IoT network of detection

safeguarding tenants with dementia

With the right solution to combine these sensors and smart devices, social landlords can build a tailored IoT network to detect fire, carbon monoxide and dangerous temperatures. The network can then convey rapid and detailed alerts if it registers heat, smoke or gas, so even if a tenant is unable to call for help themselves, the Fire and Rescue Service can be contacted and sent to the location at speed.

3. Identify vulnerable tenants and mitigate risk

safeguarding tenants with dementia

FireAngel Connected is a purpose-built cloud solution for fire detection and prevention complete with a central dashboard where social housing providers can access device and sensor data. It can be connected via cellular signals for higher reliability than Wi-Fi in order to ensure that tenants are kept safe even if the Internet goes down.

The built-in Predict™ capability can also monitor data over time to highlight trends and inform landlords when they need to check-in with their tenants. For example, it can show if a tenant’s alarm is triggered frequently due to electrical appliances overheating, food being left in the oven too long or other common behaviours consistent with dementia.

By integrating with other telecare systems, solutions like Connected can also help in providing holistic care and support for tenants who need it most. The technology can also help to highlight unidentified vulnerable tenants, including those suffering from another condition that affects their safety.

Ensure everyone receives the help they need

Through using technology, social housing providers can ensure that everyone receives the help they need and, importantly, when they need it.

To learn more about how FireAngel Connected could provide a network of prevention and protection for your residents, drop our team a message to arrange a free demonstration.