Water management

How technology can safeguard water supplies

Kevin Belben, technical applications manager at water management specialists Cistermiser and Keraflo, discusses the evolution of water temperature monitoring systems and looks at how harnessing the internet of things is playing a crucial role in improving care home resident safety and estate efficiency

If ever our healthcare sector and looking after older people was under the spotlight it is now in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis. Yet the challenge of planning and delivering care and housing for an ageing population is nothing new - it is a major theme for us all, not only personally but encompassing every housing, care and health partner in the private and public sectors.

By 2030 one in five people in the UK will be 65 or older, so it is no surprise that we need to look at future-proofing the design and build of new facilities and adapt existing care homes so they are fit for purpose.

To add some context, according to the Elderly Accommodation Counsel there are 730,000 retirement housing units across the UK and more than half of these homes and facilities were built or last renovated 30 years ago. Now is the time to look at harnessing technology to support this drive for safe, healthy homes for this fast-growing demographic.

We are already seeing how the internet of things (IoT) is opening up a world of possibilities in healthcare and wellbeing, from managing depression through wearable technology, monitoring and treating asthma with smart inhalers, to giving diabetics more control over the condition thanks to automated close- loop insulin delivery.

The speed with which cloud technology is being adopted to provide solutions at every level of the healthcare sector is astonishing, so it is no surprise that water management specialists like

better at assessing the benefits and feasibility of implementing new technology.

Yet with the increasing demands on funding, care establishment providers are now having to seriously confront these challenges. I believe it is a question of future-proofing and learning from past mistakes encountered in both the care and healthcare sectors.

Cistermiser and Keraflo are embracing this technology to help facility and estates professionals gain real-time control over their water system management.

As with any innovation, getting full- scale adoption overnight is not realistic and a process of building awareness and education is vital and to be expected, especially when it comes to technology. Research supported by The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust found that although technology has the potential to deliver significant savings for the NHS and care homes, the service does not have a strong track record in

implementing it at scale and needs to get

Water management in care homes and retirement living facilities has traditionally been perceived as a problem child

May 2020 •

Nobody likes to think about the worst- case scenario but there is a reason it is so important to track water temperature consistently in a care home setting. In June 2018 Bupa Care Home were fined £3 million after an elderly male patient had died three years earlier from contracting legionnaires’ disease at their Hutton Village nursing home in Brentwood, Essex. Summing up, the judge at Ipswich Crown Court said that the care home had allowed legionella to persist, despite various “warning bells” since 2012.

Plugging the gaps

While it is essential that we learn lessons from unfortunate episodes such as this, the key issue to flag is shortage of accurate data. Without it, it is almost impossible to identify that water temperatures are out of range across a large-scale care home site, which may have thousands of water system outlets to monitor.

Despite its critical function, water management in care homes and retirement living facilities has traditionally been perceived as a problem child, approached in a fragmented and sometimes inconsistent way across the sector.

While estates teams are good at undertaking risk assessments and water monitoring, many larger facilities face a significant resource issue in sparing staff time to take temperature readings. It is


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