Living independently is, for many people, a cornerstone to staying happy and healthy longer. Furthermore, keeping local residents out of care homes and hospitals saves on resources and takes pressure off strained emergency services. However, in order to live at home, many older or vulnerable people need a reliable monitoring service. Using telecare alarms has long been considered a possible solution, and thanks to a London borough study we now have the statistics to see exactly how telecare services can positively support individuals and communities.
In 2013, the London Borough of Havering begun an 18-month independent evaluation of their On Track telecare initiative. The council wanted to see exactly how telecare services affected care home and hospital admissions. They found conclusive evidence that in service user groups the programme reduced hospital admissions by 50%. It also delayed an individual’s move into nursing care by two to seven months.
Telecare services are a practical solution to providing remote monitoring to people living at home. The ‘panic button’ equipment is worn on a bracelet or around the neck and can be pressed to alert a responder in the case of an accident, illness or emergency. This alert triggers a phone call, and if contact can’t be made, a responder is dispatched. This means a non-serious incident can be quickly resolved and potentially more serious consequences are avoided. Likewise, the GPS function can be used to track people with dementia.
For many people and councils, home visit carers are the answer to independent living. Many otherwise healthy and happy elder persons can continue to live at home with just a little daily help with tasks such as showering, cooking and cleaning. However, one daily visit is not enough to ensure an incident or emergency is noticed quickly enough, and this is where telecare systems come into play. For those carers working full-time with dementia clients, the GPS means they can pop out to do the shopping without the possibly dangerous consequences of someone becoming lost.
Havering was the ideal test environment for this system, as the council has been concerned about failing the government’s four-hour target for A&E care. Older populations typically make up a large population of A&E admissions, particularly in the winter months, and Havering has a large older population. However, the study found elderly telecare users like the ones in Havering are less likely to visit A&E as a result of a falls or illnesses, as these are treated at home before the issue can escalate into an emergency.
In addition, the study found that 95% of telecare users reported feeling safer living at home, and this is a key component to delaying care home admissions. Overall, the report finds that telecare system use has a significant effect on the number of hospital admissions and on a person’s decision to live at home or take up residential care. The positive outcomes of keeping individuals out of hospitals and homes are numerous, from cost savings and resource management to happier and safer older residents, and these have convinced Havering council to continue using the system,