Complex upgrade at Audley St Elphins Park
Account manager - Andy Barker
System installed - Full FTTH (Fibre-To-The-Home) converged infrastructure installed in all 127 apartments, with Home Hub installed in each apartment. Installation of Access Control, Door Entry, CCTV cabling, in-apartment Wi-Fi, Sentinel SmartLINK system, and i63 Wi-Fi phones to replace existing DECT phones.
Details - The project represented the first step in a major technology retrofit programme carried out by Audley Villages Group. As their trusted technology partner, and as Strategic Technology Partner of ARCO, Audley engaged the services of Total Integrated Solutions Ltd (TIS) to carry out this complex upgrade project.
The project represented the first step in a major technology retrofit programme carried out by Audley Villages Group. As their trusted technology partner, and as Strategic Technology Partner of ARCO, Audley engaged the services of Total Integrated Solutions Ltd (TIS) to carry out this complex upgrade project.
Audley St Elphin’s Park, is an Integrated Retirement Community (IRC) set in 14 acres of the Derbyshire Dales, close to Matlock and Bakewell. The community consists of 127 properties and a restored Victorian school at its centre. The IRC also benefits from spa facilities, swimming pool, bistro, restaurant, and library. The IRC is and remained at very high occupancy throughout the delivery of the project.
As with many IRC’s of this age, the technology supporting owners was slowly becoming obsolete and not in keeping with the overall vision for the facility or indeed the desires of the owners. Providing high quality digital services for owners, as well as modern and compliant life safety products, as a function which supports property sales, was the driving factor for carrying out the project.
It was essential that TIS ensured absolute minimal disruption to the smooth operation of the IRC and to property owners. TIS, as incumbent service and maintenance provider, are experienced in the delivery of such projects and are cognisant of the need to respect the needs and wants of the property owners. Joint communication with Audley, tailored to the owners, prior to commencement, during and upon completion of the project was very important in ensuring the continued satisfaction of Audley’s customers.
An initial challenge was to ensure that the benefits associated with the upgrade was communicated to all owners, this was done by both Audley and TIS. Subsequently, joint marketing material has been produced which has enabled both Audley and TIS realise maximum benefits from the project.
A detailed project plan was designed so that access to individual properties was kept to a minimum and as much prior notice as possible was given, and where access wasn’t possible, the project programme was flexible to meet this. Upon completion of the technology upgrade, tailored training was given to staff and owners to ensure that new equipment’s operation was fully understood and useable.
To help build familiarity with the new technology and to improve resident ‘buy in’, a demonstration kit was set up in St. Elphin’s in-house library. The residents were invited to touch, feel, and try the technology at their leisure. We also ensure one of our dedicated account managers was available at various times throughout the project to answer any questions and allay any concerns.
The technical benefits of the project saw a new, fast broadband services to each apartment, new flexibility of digital television options, new and more robust Wi-Fi based phone system as well as the installation of the bespoke Sentinel SmartLINK touch screen panel. Each property has fibre terminated in specifically designed home hubs, which amalgamated numerous services into a single place. The Sentinel SmartLINK provides emergency call, phone call function and property to property video calling as well as many other internet enabled services.
How we did it
The project was allocated a dedicated project manager and project engineer, and a detailed project plan was produced in collaboration with, and approved by Audley. There were weekly project progress meetings between Audley, TIS and Audley’s external IT company. Progress reports were produced to ensure delivery against milestones and project risks were highlighted, mitigated, and updated throughout the project. These meetings also provided an opportunity to continue to review and ensure safe working practices.
Carrying out a retrofit technology upgrade programme in an occupied IRC not only had to consider the impact and disruption to owners, but also impact on the existing building fabric. Small tweaks to the design, such as the installation of some ceiling hatches meant that the requirement to ‘make good’ was much smaller than would have otherwise been the case. In addition, terminating into a single home hub ensured that the same was true within the properties.
Minimising downtime to life safety systems was critical. We accomplished this with a step-by-step migration path, and dual operation ensured that old systems were not decommissioned before the new systems were operational.
What we delivered
The project was completed on time and on budget, and feedback from both Audley and property owners has been excellent. The strategic objective of improving the saleability and resale value through improved technology has been met. Audley are looking to utilise this project as the blue print for 8 future retrofit projects of a similar scale over the next few years.
"With the big analogue switch off looming, Audley have begun a series of infrastructure upgrades across our portfolio of retirement villages. St Elphin’s in Matlock was chosen as our first retrofit village, work begun in November 2021 with our preferred partner TIS. It has been a long and arduous task with many lessons learned along the way, TIS have worked tirelessly with the on-site team to ensure minimum disruption to our owners, and I’m pleased to say as we wrap up the final pieces that it has been a huge success. Onto the next village….."
IT Director, Audley Group