How could telecare help you?
What is telecare?
The term 'telecare' is used to describe a system that remotely monitors a specific situation in the home, and then enables the user to summon help and support if needed.
What form does telecare take?
Telecare comes in many forms but some of the most commonly used systems include sensors, alarms, movement detectors and video conferencing. These can be particularly helpful for anyone living with dementia.
Telecare services can support personal safety and promote independence. Uses could include:
- reminder services - for example, medication reminder phone calls
- warning of potentially dangerous situations - for example, smoke, gas or flood detectors
- summoning help in an emergency - for example, a personal alarm service
- monitoring long term health conditions - for example, glucose levels for diabetics
How do telecare systems work?
Devices in the home are connected to a support centre via a telephone line, or over the internet. The system monitors specified events and can trigger an alarm to the user or call centre if a problem occurs. The alarm can also be triggered by the user pressing a panic button.
Most telecare devices will have a base unit which connects to the user's phone line and which receives signals from sensors placed around the home and/or a pendant button or wristband button worn by the user. The base unit will contain a speaker and microphone which allows the user to have a conversation with the support centre. The microphone is quite sensitive so users can be some way from the base unit and still hear and be heard by the operator at the support centre.
Telecare services have traditionally been provided by a community alarm or monitoring service provided by the local authority. However it is now sometimes possible to set a system with a private company.
Types of telecare systems available
The recipient of the alarm system wears a pendant or wrist-strap that can be pressed to summon help if they become anxious, confused, or need help in an emergency.
To receive reminders, an automatic pill dispenser is linked to a call centre. If medication is not taken on time, a phone call from the support centre can be used as a prompt, or an alert can be raised so a relative of friend can be informed.
Flood detectors - sensors can be fitted to the skirting boards or floor in the bathroom and kitchen. If taps are left running and cause a flood, the system will raise the alarm and inform the user and call centre.
Temperature detectors - Extreme changes in temperature, either high or low, will be picked up and a warning issued. This can be particularly useful to warn of pans burning dry, a cooker left on and forgotten, or room temperatures dropping to the point which is detrimental to health.
Smoke alarms and gas detectors- these can be used to ensure safety, particularly in the kitchen, to detect if gas appliances have been left on unlit, or items have been forgotten and are burning.
Sensors placed by a bed or chair can alert someone else in the house that the person might need help going to the toilet in the night, or movement sensors could be used to trigger lights coming on automatically in the hallway or bathroom.
Similarly a system can be set up that will trigger a response if the front door is opened, or if the person does not return within a specified time.
Telehealth systems cover the electronic exchange of personal health data from a patient at home to medical staff at the hospital or your GPs, to assist in diagnosis and monitoring. With the appropriate equipment, a telehealth system can monitor blood pressure, blood glucose or oxygen saturation, which could assist with monitoring conditions such as diabetes, lung problems or heart conditions.
For more information about all forms of telecare, and other assistive equipment, The Disability Living Foundation offers a wealth of advice on its websites 'Living made Easy' and 'AskSara'. Click on the links here to view:
For guidance about local telecare services available in your area contact Social Services.