Latest initiative aims to find UK innovations to transform how utilities are delivered to the 850,000 people with dementia in the UK
The EIC is calling on UK innovators and SMEs to support the utilities industry in transforming the lives of customers living with dementia, their families, and carers. The initiative aims to bring businesses together with utilities companies to facilitate innovation across the sector, developing new products and services that will improve the quality of life for people with dementia. This is the first in a proposed series of industry-wide initiatives EIC has planned to support the development of innovative solutions for utilities customers on the Priority Services Register.
The official launch of the initiative follows on from the Call 4 Action workshop, a collaboration between the EIC, Cadent, and the Alzheimer’s Society. The workshop, which took place in November, brought together utility companies, innovators from different backgrounds, charities, and experts to raise awareness of the issues faced by those with dementia in relation to safe access to utilities in the home.
Research undertaken at the event discovered that over half of the attendees had either a partial or no understanding of the challenges surrounding utilities for people with dementia in the UK. Attendees also identified communication and safety as two of the key areas in which utilities companies could make an impact.
What challenges do people with dementia face, and how can innovators help?
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, the total number of people living with dementia in the UK sits at 850,000, with numbers expected to rise to over 1 million by 2025. To help encourage businesses to think about ways they can help improve the delivery of utilities for these people, the EIC has highlighted some of the key challenges which the sector must address. These include:
- Communication, including improving how people with dementia communicate with companies on the phone or online, and how they can be prompted to remember security information, etc.
- Bills and payments, including support navigating bills, providing meter readings, understanding payment requirements such as debit/credit balances, or support utilising different payment options.
- Finance, including understanding and comparing different company offers, support changing providers, and help managing costs.
- Fraud, in particular, supporting people with dementia to prevent them from being vulnerable to fraudulent schemes
- Safety, such as ensuring customers can use utilities safely in their own home and that that their safety is not compromised during unplanned disconnections, etc.
Businesses from all areas are encouraged to submit their proposed solutions to help the utility sector support people with dementia via the EIC’s website, at: https://www.ukeic.com/opportunity/dementia-support
Denise Massey, Managing Director of the EIC, said:
“The EIC’s purpose is to bring innovators together with utility companies to make positive change and improve people’s quality of life. As part of this, one of our main priorities is looking at how we can work with utility companies to support customers in vulnerable situations. This campaign is a perfect example of how we can work with utility partners to do this, and we are thrilled to have already partnered with Cadent and the Alzheimer’s Society to bring this issue to the forefront of discussions. The utilities industry is always evolving, and so we want to make sure that customers in vulnerable situations are not left behind as it looks to continue innovating. For us, the way to do this is to use innovation to solve the specific challenges faced by the 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK.
“We hope that this campaign is the first major step in the creation of meaningful solutions that support the industry-wide goal of keeping customers on the priority services register (PSR), such as those with Dementia, living independently in the safety of their own homes. We are beyond excited to see what the innovation community has to offer to support this cause.”
Jo Giles, Customer Safeguarding Manager at Cadent, said:
“At Cadent, we are committed to prioritising the needs of people in vulnerable situations and are pleased to now be partnering with EIC for this campaign. Our hope is that through collaboration, we can make a real difference and find solutions to some of the common problems faced by people living with Dementia(s) when it comes to accessing utilities. It’s through work like this that we are able to respond to the challenges faced by customers with specific needs and encourage innovators to come forward with meaningful solutions.”