Category: Place and Community

Digital Inclusion in Hounslow

During the last 18 months Digital inclusion challenges have been magnified which has given the team a renewed drive and focus to continue work in this area.

For some people it is issue with devices, for some it is connectivity and for some it is the confidence and training needed to use digital services. Only by being able to address all 3 can this be truly addressed .

Internally within the Council we have challenges with ensuring all colleagues have access to the right tools as all internal systems moving online.

We have a new Digital Inclusion Commitment with a new action plan to drive addressing issues internally and externally working with partners such London Office of Technology Innovation (Loti) and our Local Voluntary Services.

So what is Hounslow doing?

Hounslow now has a Digital Inclusion Group which has met regularly over the last 12 months and there continue to be deliverables across all these areas. This work has been alongside national government initiatives.

Earlier this year the Council supplied 750 devices and 150 dongles to school children – information here: Hundreds of extra laptops for Hounslow pupils | London Borough of Hounslow

Connectivity

The council has signed master wayleave agreements with 2 suppliers and this work includes social value elements and contributions towards connectivity challenges including free connections to community spaces. Further information here: Hounslow signs first full-fibre agreement | London Borough of Hounslow.

Based on current rollout schedule the council through this will be able to provide 300 residents broadband connections for a year and half price connections for another 200& – this is alongside free community wifi connections as part of this work.

Devices and training

The council is recycling laptops to residents – the aim is to complete 700 per year and we have completed the initial pilot. We are also continuing to tie this in with skills and training with the local voluntary services training people to perform this work alongside joint work with our Adult Education teams to provide digital skills.

Resident journeys

This is the feedback from two resident journeys which shows the difference this support has made:

  • Resident 1
    • This resident is a member of a support group who provide activities and support to young people with disabilities.
    • He lives independently in sheltered accommodation in the borough.
    • He was using a very old desktop computer and was pleased to receive a refurbished laptop which has allowed him to download and play games online.
    • This has meant that he can still socialise while in lockdown and can access the zoom activities arranged through the club.
    • He has learned how to create youtube videos and uploads regular content for the club.
  • Resident 2
    • A 65 year old resident, described as not being very computer savvy was referred to our Work Hounslow team for help finding work. Previously, having lost his job, he became homeless and was a year before he found accommodation. He wants to learn to use a computer.
    • Work Hounslow arranged to meet with him. Work Hounslow then asked if Learn Hounslow had a laptop he could use as she was aware we do loan them to learners.
    • We enrolled him on a short beginner’s digital skills course, and he borrowed a Chromebook. After this he returned the Chromebook, and the voluntary services were able to gift him a reconditioned laptop to use. He initially had difficulty using this as he didn’t realise where he might be able to access free wifi but the team informed him he can access free wifi in some coffee shops and public spaces such as libraries so he is now able to make full use of his new device.

Fibre broadband in Hounslow

Current sites completed by Community Fibre

South Road work 263 properties .

Cottington Road 306 properties.

Hampton Road East (44 properties) , Oxford Court (59 ), Swift Road (48), The Hollands (126) .

New Chapel Square (58 properties), Midsummer Avenue (187) .

Hunter House (206 properties), Watermead (153), Rose Gardens (73), Wynne Court (87), Pears Road (115) .

Sites planned/underway

Sandalwood Road, Brookwood Road, Swan Road, Summerwood Road, Greenham House, Derwent Lodge, Tivoli Road, Boswood Court, Cooper House, Wheatley Road, Southern Avenue, Old Farm Close, Hatchett Road, Frank Towell Court, Percy Gardens, Clements Court

Sites underway by Hyperoptic

Brent Lea – 215 properties.

What is fibre broadband to premises?

This is the where the fibre cable is delivered direct into premises and not via the green boxes you may see which then need a copper cable into each individual property.

A fibre optic cable is able to handle a much larger volume of data than a copper cable without degrading. Fibre optic is therefore quicker than standard broadband, as the signal strength is less likely to fail with distance from the exchange, and speeds are maintained over greater distance. Maintenance is also better with fibre broadband and better guarantees of speed can be offered by suppliers.

The work also helps as part of move to fibre from copper by BT Openreach over the coming years with the current final date for disconnection set at 31 December 2025 for equipment connected from exchanges via copper to local “green” boxes.

Fibre broadband in Hounslow

The principles for guiding the roll out of fibre broadband:

  • To maximise the extent and coverage of fibre broadband availability for residents and businesses in the borough.
  • To deliver the rollout of improved fibre infrastructure in a way that minimises the disturbance to residents and businesses in the borough.
  • To ensure delivery of fibre broadband networks at pace.
  • To leverage social, environmental and economic value and secure investment in digital investment that everyone in the borough can benefit from.

The Council has been working in partnership with Harrow and Barnet Councils, so far Community Fibre and Hyperoptic have signed agreements with more expected, with the rollout programmes being developed currently for the Council’s social housing stock. This will help to unlock the investment needed to get fibre broadband into all premises in Hounslow,

As different sites around Hounslow have confirmed dates we will publish here this information in addition to direct communication by the suppliers at each site.

Information sent to residents

Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) digital workstream exciting developments… view from a Business Relationship Manager

by Hirva Shah hirva.shah@hounslow.gov.uk

I work in the Digital and IT (D&IT) service as Business Relationship Manager and social care service is one of the key accounts that I work very closely within my current role. I work with them to understand their digital requirements and the support needed for delivering services to the residents. During the Covid times, the digital tools and virtual platform available through D&IT has helped them to work in partnership with Health, however, they did not have access to the NHS’s clinical systems which was essential to them to acquire a broader knowledge on the patients and get a holistic view of patient needs for delivering the best care. 

The integrated care partnership  (ICP) initiative is lead by the NHS to bring together the providers and commissioners of NHS services to work with the local authorities and other local partners collectively to plan health and care services to meet the needs of the residents has been very advantageous to the council. This collaborative partnership initiative has led into the Digital ICP workstream which facilitates knowledge and information sharing and partnership working between the council and Health partners such as NWCCGs, Trust, Primary care and GPs on the digital elements linked to high-level ICP strategic objectives. These objectives are in place to promote and encourage healthy choices to reduce health inequality, improve resilience, age well and improved social connection in the community.

This joined-up approach has facilitated discussion and agreements on digital elements such as: having a single and secure WiFi infrastructure; data-sharing and access agreement; digital technologies used between the partners for social prescribing; assistive living independently and remote monitoring. Information gathered through these discussions has helped to draft the guidelines and principles which will be used to develop an operating model against each of these workstreams to deliver coordinated services tailored around the needs of the community. Activities such as service design and mapping out clinical pathway may be carried out to understand the technical requirements, impact and affordability for care technology procurement. 

Through digital collaboration work alongside our health partners, we have succeeded in clarifying the technical and legal requirements needed for the data information-sharing agreement on NHS clinical systems. We have increased our understanding of the different portals being used by Health and Social Care partners within the North West London region to access patient information for delivering care. Information gathered through this collaborative approach has helped us to provide the relevant systems and access details to West London Mental Health Trust and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This agreement has now been approved and is in place between the Trust and the Council for the NHS clinical systems, RIO and Cerner. 

The Hospital Discharge Team co-ordinate with various care professionals and support agencies involved in decision making for residents who are admitted to the hospital and agree on the most beneficial way to continue their care following discharge from the hospital. Through the Cerner system, they are now able to see when the residents have been admitted to the hospital and when they are due to be discharged so that a subsequent care support plan can be put in place. The Approved Mental Health Practitioner Team, which is part of the Adult Social care service area, deal with mental health needs by applying various sections of the Mental Health Act. Working in partnership with West London Health Trust, access to the RIO system allows them to screen the referrals and gather assessment information. 

The aim is to enable our residents to have healthier lives and get the care and treatment they need at the right time and in the right location. Providing integrated care through digital technology will deliver better services that can be made available and easily accessible and cost-effectively from home (e.g. via video call/call conferencing for carrying out remote assessments and triage services appropriately). The ongoing collaboration work between the Healthcare partners and the Council has helped develop an in-depth understanding of the needs, challenges and barriers to delivering integrated care service to the wider population. Sharing ideas and experience between the partners will help to build a road map and a plan to deliver the outcomes required for the integrated care service to provide better health outcomes for residents. 

We are planning on more joined-up working through the ICP and our One Hounslow programme of work – with Digital systems being the levers for change to ensure that we transform the services that we can provide. 

I am excited to be continuing to be a part of the joined-up organisations and improving services for the residents. After all, I am also a part of the community who would be benefiting from receiving the highest care through this joined-up partnership.   

Watch this space!