Headlines: July 22nd, 2009

Telecare, equipment and services that support people in their own homes, can help to meet demands from a rapidly rising elderly population and ever increasing costs. A report from the University of Leeds and the Bow Group argues that telecare provides a crucial opportunity to help save the UK health and social care system. The report claims that the time for the universal, mainstreamed approach to telecare is now.

The demand for care is rising. By 2025 the number of people aged 85 or older in England is set to increase by 70 per cent to nearly two million. In this group more than a third of men and more than half of women live alone. Most have a limiting long term illness. The situation is aggravated by rising costs.

Research has shown that Telecare offers a proven “win-win” for the health and social care system by helping sick, disabled and older people remain at home for longer by supporting them 24/7. Telecare consists of a base unit and wireless sensors that link to a 24 hour response centre that monitor risks associated with, for example, falls, fire, dementia, gas leaks and security issues. It also provides alarms, alerts, health monitoring and communication.

The report describes how telecare enables people to remain at home who would otherwise need to be placed in residential or nursing care establishments and how it reduces the number of preventable injuries, accidents or risks encountered by sick, disabled or vulnerable people living at home. It also provides support to unpaid carers and improves the efficiency of home care services.