Telecare is a service that enables people, especially older and more vulnerable individuals, to live independently in their own home. 90% of people say that that is their wish and Telecare allows it to happen. Equally it gives peace of mind to family, friends and carers, knowing that when they are unable to watch over their loved ones, Telecare will.
Telecare is as much about the philosophy of dignity and independence as it is about equipment and services. Equipment is provided to support the individual in their home and tailored to meet their needs. It can be as simple as the basic community alarm service, able to respond in an emergency and provide regular contact by telephone. it can include detectors or monitors such as motion or falls and fire and gas that trigger a warning to a response centre staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
As well as responding to an immediate need, telecare can work in a preventative mode, with services programmed to monitor an individual's health or well-being. Often known as lifestyle monitoring, this can provide early warning of deterioration, prompting a response from family or professionals. The same technology can be used to provide safety and security through bogus caller and burglar alarms.
Another form of telecare often known as telehealth is designed to complement health care. It works by monitoring vital signs, such as blood pressure, and transmitting the data to a response centre or clinician's computer, where it is monitored against parameters set by the individual's clinician. Evidence that vital signs are outside of 'normal' parameters triggers a response. To be successful telehealth needs to be part of the local health and social care pathway for managing long term conditions.
All the examples outlined above can be used on their own or in combination in order to best meet the needs of the individual and get the best fit with local services, including those provided by family and friends. All telecare packages need to balance technology with other forms of care and support and be reviewed in the same way as all other packages of health and social care.