Headlines: January 9th, 2006

New technology is helping more elderly people to live independently in their own homes, according to the latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre. They show a steady increase in the last three years in the proportion of older people who receive intensive help to support independent living with many local councils already having met central government targets in this area.The figures reveal that just under a third of elderly people still live in their own homes, due in part to the increase in the number who are receiving intensive home care. The figures also show that all inner London councils and nine out of ten outer London authorities are already meeting the target set by the Department of Health that states that by 2008, the proportion of older people being supported intensively to live at home should be at least 34 per cent of the total of those being supported at home or in residential care.

Elsewhere in England, 65 local authorities, which represents 43 per cent, are meeting the March 2008 target, an increase of 13 councils in the last year. The new figures were published as the Government confirmed the levels of funding councils are to get over the next two years as part of the Preventative Technologies Grant. This enables social services departments to complete their plans for supporting even more older people in their own homes by using innovative technology, known as Telecare. This provides equipment that can be as simple as a community alarm service or detection systems to monitor fire, gas or falls.

Care Services Minister, Liam Byrne, said research had shown that older people wanted to stay in their own homes for as long as possible and after a lifetime of work they deserved to get what they wanted whenever they could. “I am delighted to see that a large number of councils are already meeting the 2007-08 target, and it is important that the hard work and commitment which social services staff have put into meeting this target is maintained and built upon,” he said.

Under the DoH target Intensive home care is defined as a package of care that gives an individual elderly person more than 10 contact hours and six or more visits a week from social services.