3395
Nationwide survey of telecare use by local authorities

Posted on 07 Feb, 2018

Nationwide survey of telecare use by local authorities

The survey was conducted by a research team from three UK universities and a highly respected national housing and telecare network, led by staff from the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London. All English local authorities with social services responsibilities were contacted. The overall response rate was 75%. 

Key findings

  • Only around a quarter of local authorities said their telecare strategy had been produced in collaboration with NHS or other partners.
  • Telecare was universally seen as a way of managing risk and promoting safety and to support unpaid carers, but fewer saw it as a way of promoting social contact or enabling people to spend their leisure time in meaningful ways.
  • Telecare was used alongside social care, but also as a substitute for care.
  • Assessments for telecare were carried out by a range of different professional groups. They were not always carried out before installation. In some local authorities it was not always possible for an assessor to consider how a prospective telecare user interacted with their home environment before installation.
  • Training for telecare assessors was commonly provided by manufacturers and suppliers, and frequently of very short duration. Almost no training led to any kind of formal qualification.
  • There was reliance on a small number of telecare suppliers and a relatively small number of different devices seemed to be more commonly used.
  • Not all local authorities had established 24/7 mobile response services, and some of these did not offer telecare if a family carer could not be found to act as a responder.

Significance

  • The findings are up-to- date and the response rate means they are likely to be reasonably reliable.
  • Local authorities have continued to invest in telecare despite continuing public sector austerity and evidence from a large Department of Health funded clinical trial that found that telecare did produce better outcomes for recipients.
  • There was significant variation between local authorities in the way telecare services were designed and managed.
  • Given the strategic importance many councils now place in the use of telecare, the study raises concerns about the robustness of the infrastructure needed to implement and maintain telecare services.
  • It is possible that telecare outcomes could be improved if local authorities invested more in training staff to assess for it, for assessors to have access to a wider range of devices in some local authorities, and for it to be used for a wider range of problems than safety and family carer support.

The full survey report can be downloaded free from   https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/policy-institute/scwru/res/utopia/output.aspx

Further details from John Woolham, Senior Research Fellow, at john.woolham@kcl.ac.uk