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Smart boiler technology for vulnerable people

“With the care system in a state of flux, and the number of people suffering from dementia continuing to grow, a boiler’s ability to provide warning signs that trigger a visit will become invaluable,” says Terri Taylor, Marketing Coordinator, Intergas Boilers.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and, on 21st September, we celebrated World Alzheimer’s Day. The campaign was launched in 2012 to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia, (there are a number of different types of dementia, but the most common is Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for about two-thirds of cases). We’re all aware that this is a global issue – it’s estimated that the number of people living with dementia will increase by over 200%, from 50m in 2018 to 152m in 2050 – but closer to home there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and, as much as knowledge and research is growing every day, there is no cure. For many of us, the image of life with dementia is a rather bleak one, but the reverse can be true; many people with dementia continue to drive, socialise and hold down satisfying jobs. Even as the disease progresses, it’s possible to lead an active, healthy life, to continue with hobbies and enjoy loving relationships.

Dementia does make it harder to do certain things, but with the right support and know-how, it’s possible to stay independent for longer and get the very best out of life. ‘Support’ and ‘know-how’ many mean ‘home help’ and ‘adaptations’ to some, but at Intergas it means ‘Remote Management’. We’ve embedded software in all our newest boilers that can send and receive information wirelessly and continuously from the boiler to the contractor’s Management station (and viewed on mobile devices too). All aspects of the boiler’s performance can be scrutinised 24/7, from gas usage to managing heating and hot water requirements. Most importantly, it can spot a problem and email an alert to the contractor, which means a boiler fault can be avoided and the resident isn’t without heat or hot water. In the worst case scenario, when it’s a freezing cold day for example, but the contractor can see that the heating isn’t on and there’s no fault detected, there could be a more serious problem. It could be down to forgetfulness, common among people with dementia, and you

can something about it instantly, and you‘ll need to as older people are particularly vulnerable to prolonged exposure to the cold, which can lead to hypothermia.

Another benefit of Intergas’s Remote Management system for housing associations is that it can link up to 240 properties in one network via a single network connection. Not only does this facility increase duty of care to more vulnerable residents, it improves efficiency through more proactive servicing.

Of course, the effectiveness of the Remote Management system means nothing if the boiler is unreliable, and reliability is built-in to every Intergas boiler. It’s not just the robustness of the materials used (there are only three plastic components: the pressure sensor, ignition module and internal flue), it’s the revolutionary design of the heat exchanger which means there’s no need for a diverter valve, valve motor, auto air vent or secondary hot water plate heat exchanger. Basically, all the parts that stick, leak and let you down aren’t there. And, for good measure, this heat exchanger has never had a mechanical failure since it was launched over 20 years ago. It’s also the key reason Intergas was selected by Les Finucane, Director of Building Services at BSW Heating, for Ashford Borough Council’s installations. As a leading provider of social housing gas repair, maintenance and installation services in London and the South East, BSW has been dealing with more and more boiler breakdowns, which has been a huge demand on resources. “Boilers these days just breakdown with increasing regularity and with Intergas’s uniquely designed heat exchanger and 10-year warranty we are more confident with the reliability. When there’s a shortage of qualified heating engineers in the UK, it makes sense to install boilers that are not going to let you and the user down.”

We can’t avoid ageing, but by using smart boiler technology like Remote Management, we can be prepared.

(This article appeared in the September 2018 issue of HA Magazine.)