Centrica unveils new plans to develop smart home technology to help UK carers and those they care for.
Centrica, the parent company of British Gas and Hive, has today announced an initiative to improve the quality of life for unpaid carers and their loved ones through the power of smart home technology.
Commitments include the development of new innovations for carers, a partnership with Carers UK, a charity supporting unpaid caring relatives and friends and an awareness campaign to champion the issue amongst decision makers across relevant industries, including support of the Government's Ageing Grand Challenge.
An ageing population and rapidly increasing numbers of those with long-term illnesses and disabilities means that three in five people of this generation are expected to become carers1. The number of carers in the UK is expected to grow from 6.5 million to 9 million by 20372, significantly impacting both work and home life.
Centrica is investing in developing bespoke smart home technology solutions aimed at improving the lives of carers and those they care for by;
- Exploring how existing innovations can specifically help those with caring responsibilities in a more positive way through the current Hive ecosystem of products. Sensors that detect movement, plugs that can control a kettle or a light from the Hive app, and patterns of behaviour that can be learnt by the Hive Hub, already provide peace of mind.
- Developing new innovative solutions to keep families, friends and loved ones connected more easily, bringing even greater peace of mind for carers and those they care for and enable people to live independently in their homes for longer.
- Carrying out research trials to help develop the best possible technology will benefit both carer and those they care for.
Partnering with Carers UK to help reach, understand and deliver products and services for the caring community, Centrica will;
- Work with Carers UK to bring valuable insight to feed into new product development for the carer community.
- New partnership builds on 15 year relationship with charity which has helped Centrica develop leading policies to support employees who are carers. This includes carers leave and a thriving UK carers employee network, who will be helping to trial new products.
- Centrica will aim to raise £1m over three years for the organisation
Raising awareness of the challenges facing the care community and launching a number of initiatives designed to help to solve those challenges.
- The initiative aims to encourage businesses, Government and the third sector to improve the quality of life for carers and loved ones through the power of smart home technology.
Building upon existing initiatives including Centrica's Active Ageing Challenge, set up to spark and incubate new tech innovation to meet the needs of an ageing society. Centrica has committed to investing £100 million in start-ups, incubation and accelerator programmes by 2022.
Claire Miles, Managing Director, Centrica Hive comments: “Caring for a loved one is one of the UK’s most pressing social challenges. Now affecting millions of people, in many ways, it is an issue that is inexplicably linked with both home and working life.
“At Hive, we have developed expertise in creating easy to use smart home products that meet a genuine need. We believe we can therefore make a real difference to carers and their loved ones. Across Centrica and British Gas, our presence in millions of homes across the UK means we have a unique and sizeable opportunity to make a positive impact to feel proud of.
“We want to help carers understand the benefits of a smart home and encourage like-minded organisations to join us in developing specific new products that can help solve the needs of the caring community.”
Madeleine Starr, MBE, Director of Business Development and Innovation at Carers UK, says: “We are delighted to partner with Centrica on this fantastic and worthwhile initiative. Having supported carers for the past 50 years, we’re excited to use our breadth of knowledge and experience to help inform and shape an initiative that will give carers peace of mind, helping them have a life of their own alongside caring and enabling those they support to live independently for longer.”