Dementia Centred

By DSDC Guest

September 18th, 2019

Improving health and housing outcomes for tenants

Talking Mats, in collaboration with tenants and staff from Loretto Housing and Care, University of Stirling, Edinburgh Napier University, the Wheatley Group and Age Scotland, have been part of an exciting research project funded by Innovate UK. The project was designed to determine if the Digital Talking Mat App could improve health and housing outcomes for social housing tenants.

Talking Mats it is a social enterprise with a focus to improve lives of people with communication difficulties, and those close to them. The Talking Mats toolkit, designed by Speech and Language Therapists, uses bespoke pictures to help people express their thoughts and feelings interactively.

The project aimed to take the existing toolkit and enhance it by:

  • Developing an app that would support social housing tenants with communication difficulties to say what they thought about their housing and health.
  • Improving communication between social housing tenants and health professionals.

What the project team did

Throughout the project, the team worked with tenants and staff from Loretto, frontline health and social care staff, in addition to project partners.

A number of focus groups were held in the development phase, before training housing association staff to use the app. Once staff were trained, the researchers carefully selected a number of ‘case study area’s to ensure the app was being used by a wide range of tenants that may experience difficulties with communication. These included: people with learning disabilities, dementia, and alcohol related brain injuries. Following the case studies, this allowed the researchers to analyse data collected thus far, before the app launch.

The app was officially launched in January 2019 at the Scottish Federation of Housing Association offices.

The Talking Health and Housing set

The set has three topics, which emerged from the focus groups: home, wellbeing, support people. The ‘top scale’ for users to rate each item against, within each topic, are: going well, going well sometimes, not going well. For example, within the ‘home’ topic, one of the major themes to emerge was safety inside and outside the house. Using the app, tenants were able to identify issues that were making them feel unsafe including:

  • A broken stair door
  • Uneven pavement outside the house
  • Poor eyesight
  • Poor mobility

Through residents communicating their concerns through the app, actions were identified to address all these concerns, and anxieties were reduced.

You can read the full summary report at Talking Health and Housing Summary Report, or if you are interested in finding out more about the Talking Health and Housing App, please email

Categories: Housing and Dementia