Telecare, telehealth and personal alarm systems
Telecare and telehealth can help you to stay living independently at home for longer. Also known as personal alarm systems, home care monitoring, careline systems, community alarms or pendant alarms.
‘Tele’ means at a distance. So Telecare is the use of technology to provide care at a distance. You can use telecare and gadgets to manage your own health (self care) and remind you to do things like take medication. There are also personal alarms, where you push a button on a pendant or wristband to raise an alarm if you’ve had a fall.
Telecare can your give carers peace of mind that you have help when they’re not there.
You may already be using some technology such as a mobile phone, that can be used to help keep you safe and well.
Support and equipment available
24 hour response centre and mobile wardens
A special alarm unit can be installed in your home, which can automatically connect to a 24-hour response centre.
When the alarm is activated, for example, if you fall, become unwell or feel unsafe, the 24 hour response centre is alerted. A member of the team will contact you straightaway to check you are ok. If you need help, a response officer will travel to your home to help you.
When you press the alarm, an operator in the response centre can speak to you through your alarm unit and give you advice, or contact your family, a doctor or the emergency services.
You can also wear a pendant or wristband round your home, which acts like a portable alarm button.
Telecare equipment available
Telecare equipment can be personalised and programmed to fit in with your normal patterns, such as how often you usually get out of bed during the night. All you need for the equipment to work is a phone socket that has an electric plug socket nearby.
Monitoring your day to day activity can help reassure you and your carers that you are safe and well or tell you if there’s a problem or change in your behaviour or health. For example, if you’re going to the toilet more than usual, you may have a urine infection. Or in an emergency situation when you need help straight away.
There’s a huge range of technology available to help you at home and when you’re out and about. This includes:
Activity monitoring or remote monitoring: uses sensors to monitor your activity during the day and night. This can be your liquid or food intake movement, door opening, temperature and electricity use.
Bed sensor: uses a pressure pad sensor to send an alert if you are out of bed for an unusual amount of time, don’t get into or out of bed. It can monitor the whole bed, one side of the bed, or the whole room. It can automatically switch a lamp on or off to help prevent trips and falls.
Carer alert: used by your carer or warden to monitor alerts from the telecare devices in your home
Door sensor: sends an alert if your door is opened at unexpected times. Your carer, family or friends are contacted immediately.
Fall detector: calls the response centre if you fall and are unable to get up again. Includes a pendant button to press to call the control centre.
Flood detector: calls the response centre when water is detected. This may be because a tap has been left on. You and your carers can be informed straight away.
Location or GPS (Global Positioning System) devices: help people with memory problems stay in a ‘safe area’, to enable you to continue to live independently. GPS devices can be worn or carried when out and about. For example: keyring, insoles inside shoes, watch, pendant or downloaded to your phone. Family members or carers are alerted if you go outside your safe area.
Hydration reminders: to prompt you to drink water. A cup sits on a base which lights up to remind you to have a drink. Your carer or family member can record a message to remind you to take a drink.
Key safe: securely stores a spare key outside your home. Mobile wardens, the ambulance service or people you give the code to can access your home in an emergency.
Motion activated devices: a simple speaker or a tablet device where a family member, or carer can record messages which plays when you move past the device. For example if you move past before 7am in the morning it can remind you that it’s too early to leave the house, or to make sure the door is locked.
Pendant alarm: a button you wear on your wrist or round your neck. You press it to call for help if you are unwell or have fallen.
Pill dispenser: reminds you to take medication at the correct times. The reminder can be visual or audio. It alerts the response centre if your medication is not tipped out.
Sensory impairment technology: lights, vibration and sound can be used to alert you when the doorbell or phone rings, to take medication, when the door opens or in an emergency For example a vibration pad under your pillow to wake you during the night if the fire alarm goes off. A flashing beacon uses a bright coloured (red, orange, yellow or green) light to tell you that something has happened.
Smart devices: can control things around your home for example the heating, lights, curtains, kettle or door locks. You or your carer can buy smart items and download an app to your phone or tablet. This allows you to turn things on and off without having to get up, by using your voice or at set times.
Telecare services in Newcastle
Ostara (formerly Community Care Alarm Service) provide telecare and alarm equipment to help you live safely at home. They have a range of equipment from simple alarm buttons to flood detectors, pill dispensers and door opening sensors that are connected to a 24 hour response centre.
Ostara is part of the Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) Group. Anyone living in Newcastle (and some surrounding areas) can join the service, regardless of the type of accommodation you live in or who owns your home.
Ostara offer 2 services depending on the level of support you might need. Contact them to find out which service suits your needs and costs.
- Ostara respond includes the basic care alarm, 24hr warden and 6 week check.
- Ostara Flex includes medication reminders, fall sensors, unlimited telecare (after an assessment), holiday support calls and dementia support
Visit Ostara.org.uk to find out more or to book a free consultation. You don’t always need a phone line and could link to a SIM card.
Ostara works with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to help people who have fallen and are not injured.
TSA (Technology Enabled Care Services Association) have a searchable directory of telecare and telehealth services on their website. You can find local and national services that are registered members of TSA and may meet their quality standards and code of practice.
Just Checking use a telecare system with sensors and alerts called Just Roaming in some of Newcastle City Council’s learning disability properties.
GrandCare offer a package to support wellbeing and independence, with instant video calling from anywhere to instant messages. The system enables activity monitoring and medical compliance.
Anchor Housing independent living schemes have a telecare system called Anchorcall.
Careline365 offer personal and pendant alarms for people at risk of falling. You can also include a Fall Detector plan in your package. This is a paid for service. They have different monthly plans available.
Telecare is a monitoring service that offers remote support to older, disabled and vulnerable people who live alone in their own homes. This is a paid for service. They have different monthly plans available.
Support for carers
Telecare can help give carers reassurance that the person you care for is safe and well. Knowing that you will be alerted if there’s a problem can help give you time for yourself, to have a break and look after yourself.
Looking after someone who couldn’t manage without your help, means you’re a carer. Support is available in Newcastle to help you take care of yourself too.
Newcastle Carers give information, advice and support to carers. They run support groups, counselling, training, events and activities. They can help you to apply for benefits and grants and to prepare to return to work.
Carers Emergency Contact Scheme from British Red Cross is a free service, so the person you care for can be looked after if you have a personal crisis such as, an illness, accident or emergency. Your plan is kept safe and available in an emergency.
Paying for your care and support
Having technology in your home to help you can benefit your health and wellbeing long term. There is a cost for purchasing and running this kind of equipment. Many devices use electricity and the internet. If you are worried about the cost of living you can read more about local support on InformationNOW.
As your care needs change you can speak to Community Health and Social Care Direct at Newcastle City Council. They can talk to you about your needs and signpost you to local support. They can carry out a financial assessment to find out if you are eligible for support from the council to pay towards your care and support.
Equipment, aids and home adaptations
Equipment is available to help you manage at home better and to get out and about. You can get advice from local services to find the right equipment for you. For example, a perching stool to help you prepare food, tap turners or stairlifts.
You can buy, borrow or hire equipment. There may be some charities who can help you buy equipment too.
Speak to Community Health and Social Care Direct at Newcastle City Council for more information about equipment and to see if you are eligible for help from the council.
Read more on InformationNOW about:
Other useful information
Introducing telecare – factsheet from The Disabled Living Foundation
Your Equipment Newcastle can help you to find small pieces of equipment to help make your life easier at home
Last updated: September 14, 2023