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Introducing Sunnd – driving genuine social innovation through collaboration

This opinion piece is almost 7 years old

Lucy Fraser on a new concept for living which puts puts wellness at the heart of housing

Following our win at this year’s Saltire Society Innovation in Housing Awards as well as recent media splashes in the Mail on Sunday, BBC Good Morning Scotland and the Scotsman, most people within Scotland’s health, care and housing sectors will have by now heard about the FitHome concept.

But first, for those who haven’t, here’s a brief introduction.

The concept’s origins go back to 2008 when sadly, one of our tenants was found dead in his home, having lain unnoticed for over a year.

Vowing to ensure this could never happen again, we (a Highland-based RSL with around 3,500 tenanted properties), commissioned new research exploring potential solutions only to find that the ideal fix didn’t yet exist.

As a result, we began to develop our system that can be adopted across the society’s growing portfolio of homes.

Lucy Fraser

Sunnd is derived from the Gaelic word that means health, wellbeing, and happiness – everything we want for residents

Lucy Fraser

As part of our research, we got more involved with discussions around aging and lifestyle trends and the pressures these are placing, not just on the people concerned, but also on their families and neighbours and the country’s national health and care services.

We felt that something was missing in the system developed to address this need. For us, this needed to centre on supporting people to live independently in their own homes for longer, if that is what they wanted, and it was safe for them to do so.

Fast forward a few years and a few chance meetings, and we have taken this idea forward.

As head of innovation at Albyn, I formed a like-minded collaboration with NHS Highland’s director of research, development and innovation, Professor Angus JM Watson, and Matt Stevenson, managing director of Carbon Dynamic, and together we have created an entirely new concept for living, encompassing not just the actual home but also cutting-edge assistive technology.

Cue the birth of the FitHome.

Developed through co-design with partners, potential tenants and health and care professionals, the FitHome puts wellness at the heart of housing.

But fundamentally, the FitHome is about a shared vision that states that everyone should have the choice to live safe and well in their homes and communities for as long as they want.

Digital technology, collaboration and social innovation are central to this concept, and together, present new and disruptive ways to deliver health and care in the home.

For example, data-collecting ambient, physiological and building sensors can be monitored and responded to by a variety of agencies, or whoever the tenant wants to be contacted, while sustainable volumetric modular construction methods can deliver scale and agility.

The partnership between health, care and housing (as well as stakeholders including potential tenants or residents) is where true social innovation and disruption come in, creating a space where systems and established norms can be challenged.

Last week), we formally launched FitHome at the Scottish Parliament with support from Maree Todd MSP and Scotland’s Futures Forum. This event was also the first open airing for Sunnd, the name we have given the formal partnership behind the FitHome vision.

Sunnd is derived from the Gaelic word that means health, wellbeing, and happiness – everything we want for residents of the Highlands, Scotland, the UK and beyond.

We have entered an interesting space in this journey, one where wellness rather than health becomes the focus, housing is not just bricks and mortar, and collaboration is the spark that lights the flame of innovation.

You can follow us on our journey on Twitter @sunndbyte or at

Lucy Fraser is head of innovation at Albyn Housing Society.



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Joanna Gillies
almost 7 years ago
Hi there Do you have any written information about what your scheme entails? Do you have any newsletters, web updates etc that we can sign up to? I am the Secretary for the college of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section for Occupational Therapists who work in Housing and I know this is an area which would be of great interest to them.Many thanksJoanna
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