Telecare as a concept is no new thing. For years, local authorities, politicians, charities and experts within the healthcare arena have pointed to the use of assistive technology as a possible solution to many of the problems the care industry is facing following budget cuts and stretched resources. Despite this, however, telecare has failed to really make it into the mainstream, and years after social care departments like Hampshire County Council highlighted the advantages of offering telecare services to the elderly and the vulnerable in society, there is still a lot of work to be done to properly utilise the technology effectively.
At present, where telecare is used, the recipients are mainly elderly people who require a level of assistance to remain in their own homes. The use of pendant alarms for the elderly, for instance, is useful for keeping clients safe, especially if they live alone following an assessment of needs. The alarm can alert a named relative, friend or neighbour in the event of a fall, meaning that help can be offered in a timely manner. Telecare is also offered by some councils, such as Coventry City Council, for people discharged from hospital who still need additional assistance, those with disabilities and carers looking after people with additional needs.
Despite promising moves towards the adoption of telecare as a viable way of looking after the elderly, there are many other people in society that could benefit from telecare alarms and other types of telecare services. Vulnerable young people, such as those with learning difficulties or special educational needs, could be helped to live independent lives with the support of telecare. Here at Aster we have noticed a sharp increase in the number of people seeking to use telecare to help them live with medical conditions such as dementia, memory loss and other disabilities that would otherwise leave them with no other option than to move into supported living accommodation.
There are many obvious reasons why telecare is a good option for looking after vulnerable members of our society. Apart from the fact that it allows people to continue to live relatively independent lives in their own familiar homes and neighbourhoods, there is also the added benefit of avoiding the upheaval and cost of having to move house and set up home elsewhere. Couples can continue to live together with the support of the telecare provider, and younger vulnerable people can be supported and helped to remain safe and well. The cost of caring for dementia patients from the onset of the condition is estimated to be around £26 billion annually. And a large proportion of this figure is the day-to-day support from paid or unpaid carers. It is therefore easy to see the economic argument for telecare just on this basis alone. It is fair to say, therefore, that the time has come for telecare to be moved into the mainstream, taking its place as valuable and viable way to support people in their time of need