Housing Organisations' Experience

With a list of products to choose from, the nine participating housing organisations each selected a number of technologies to test with their tenants and began recruiting for the piloting phase of this project. Each organisation chose technologies on the basis of what would be the most beneficial for their tenants to ensure that the solutions would only have a positive effect on their lives.


Preparation and Product Choice

The first task was to locate tenants willing to participate. In some countries, recruitment was more difficult due to cultural factors.
In most cases, the choice of which products to install in each home was based on the personal needs of the tenant.
Mobility, health, and household composition were some of the many things considered.
Early research showed that tenants were not willing to purchase products, with the exception of disabled tenants who would be willing to spend money to increase their comfort.
It was interesting to see through the course of the pilot whether this attitude would change over time;
if, after using ICT for free, participants would then indicate that it was worth investing in.

© Axel Coeuret for Le Foyer Rémois

Installation and Introducing the technology

Before starting installation, it was necessary for housing organisation staff to learn about the hardware and software of the products to be installed. It was very important that tenants have a good installation experience with very few disturbances, so that they would not be scared away by their first contact with the technology. Overall, some products required very little time to be installed; others were more work, taking time and effort to navigate sometimes considerable technical issues. All of this shows that even though products were chosen to be as easily accessible to elderly and disabled people as possible, it still took some effort on the part of the housing organisation to teach many participants just the basics of what they can do.

However, they also found that social support was essential to train participants in using the technology and to make them feel comfortable with it in their everyday lives. Housing organisations tried different approaches to support their participants during the testing phase such as consultation hours, telephone hotlines, regular individual training sessions or collaborating with external social service providers. All in all, each strategy turned out to be successful in terms of tenant satisfaction.