Enabling residents to stay connected during the current crisis


Smart home devices reduce loneliness at the Hugh Fraser Retirement Estate in Newton Mearns, Glasgow

retailTRUST, the trade charity for the retail sector and related service industries, offers supported living accommodation for the over 55s across five estates in the UK. In these extremely challenging times, connecting with loved ones and the support team is particularly important for elderly residents who live in the cottageHOMES retirement estates.

The Hugh Fraser Retirement Estate in Glasgow is currently amidst a redevelopment project to cater for an ageing population, and the first new phase of retirement homes officially opened on 20 February 2020.

A pioneering first, these innovative retirement homes in Don McCarthy Court combine supported living with digitally-connected smart home technology. They are among the first in Scotland to use voice and motion activated technology to provide round-the-clock assistance, security, reassurance and companionship.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this smart home technology is enabling residents to remain in touch with their friends, families and the support team.

We spoke to some of our residents about how they were finding life at the Hugh Fraser Retirement Estate with their Amazon Echo Show devices.

Mags Chalmers has recently moved into the estate. She has progressive multiple sclerosis, scoliosis and asthma, and relies on an electric wheelchair to carry out day-to-day tasks. Mags said: “When I moved in to my new flat in Don McCarthy Court I was offered an Amazon Echo Show. To tell you the truth I was not that keen and I had never used this before, but boy how this has changed my life. I can just ask Alexa to put my lights on and off my heating, which is important, as I tend to feel warm at certain parts of the day. I can video call the staff at the reception area and video call the housing support workers in their office. I can set reminders and I do not find myself disorientated with time of day anymore. I am hoping to be able to do this with my family soon as they are getting an Echo Show too and I can then see my grandchildren, which will be great through these strange times.” 

Kathy MacIntyre, Director of Supported Living Services at retailTRUST, stated: “Living on the Hugh Fraser Retirement Estate means being part of a community where people are valued and their opinions matter. Many people living alone experience loneliness and isolation, particularly during the current COVID-19 crisis. On-site staff are contacting residents daily to ensure that they are well and check if they need anything. We deliver meals to their homes from the estate restaurant, and staff and volunteers are also shopping and collecting medication for residents who are unable to go out during the lockdown. 

“Our smart home technology enables residents to maintain contact with family and friends through video calls. Many residents have told us that they are lucky to live on the estate as they feel safe, secure and connected. They feel reassured that staff are on site that they can call on for anything they need, even if it’s just someone to talk to.” 

For more information about the cottageHOMES retirement estates click here