Headlines: November 15th, 2010

Telecare and telehealth are enabling councils to save millions of pounds on care for the elderly while helping them to keep out of hospital and care homes and stay in their own homes. New technologies for supporting elderly people in their own homes have been trialled extensively in the last few years and the trials are showing conclusively that technology works.

Investing in technology is increasingly proving that that the need for hospital admission, GP referral, home help, day care and residential care can all be reduced. The benefits are also shared with the elderly giving independence and dignity for users. The technology helps deliver round-the-clock support to users, allowing them to manage their own health budgets, ensuring timely and preventative care, giving peace of mind for them and their families.

Kent County Council working alongside health trusts in the county was able to make savings through reduced hospital admissions, accident and emergency, bed days of care, home visits and GP contact. When the reduced costs were expanded across all areas of health, it estimated an annual saving of £7.5 million.

The technology used by different councils include personal satellite locators where carers can monitor the location of someone with dementia. This allows people who are often fit in body to continue going for walks without fear of being lost.

Other devices include location buzzers which go off if you stray too far from your carer, door monitors to remind you to take keys before leaving the house, lifestyle monitoring systems where carers can monitor a person’s activities via the internet and view a chart of their activity in each room.

There are also sensors to detect floods, fire, gas leaks, falls, intruders, property exit and bed/chair occupancy, all connected to relatives or central monitoring centres, There are special plugs which stop flooding if taps are left on, and personal injury alarms activated by the wearer, or self activating following an accident.