Tony Walker, Sales Operations & Business Development Director, Tunstall Healthcare UK, writes about the private developer market and their impact on housing innovation.

Today marks the fourth National Housing Day, a day where we recognise the positive impact that housing can have on individuals and communities. I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on the positive impact that I have seen recently in the private developer market on innovation and residents wellbeing.

We have seen growth in the private developer market in recent years, with a 20% year on year increase in the number of properties built on by some of the key players. The need for differentiation with each of these developments grows with the competition in the market, meaning each provider wants to demonstrate that they have the best product on offer.

This is great for innovation, we have seen new building designs across developments such as now including gyms and therapy rooms. Developers in the high-end provision are aiming to build retirement living that doesn’t look like retirement living, removing the stigma and enhancing comfort and enjoyment. Modern buildings designed with spaces for relaxing and socialising – roof terraces, library areas, honesty bars, cafes – do these facilities come to mind when you currently think of retirement living? But why not? The residents still enjoy these luxuries so why not provide them in an innovative design so that residents can enjoy them safely within the comfort of their own home environment.

Safety is no longer the only requirement, it’s now about flexibility, overall wellbeing (both physical and mental) and lifestyle monitoring. These new developments understand that. Residents can still be safe, but without compromising their social lifestyle or independence.

A recent survey by a leading property developer found that 90% of their residents own tablets and laptops, we need to be flexible enough to ensure that we can link to those devices they already own. As a manufacturer, Tunstall have been preparing for this journey by being the first to develop an IP based warden call system that utilises a standard IP as the user interface.

What this means is that it allows the Tunstall system to act as the platform for delivering enhanced services and IOT devices, such as third party connected care products – like the Amazon Alexa that’s in the news, being launched in the UK very soon. To showcase this connected solution, we have created Marys VIP Home which demonstrates these products and the potential that can be created by installing a Communicall ViIP in a housing scheme.

The natural progression is to move to a wireless platform with the safety, reassurance and wellbeing elements being supported by a cloud-based system. This will mean even greater flexibility and more integration into other technologies and solutions and will make it more affordable for the wider market.