Stuart LaFfinStuart La-Ffin, Consumer Channel Sale Dev Manager, talks about the importance of signposting to raise awareness of telecare and people’s options for support. 

Part of the current Care Act requires that local authorities in England provide information and advice that is universally accessible so that individuals understand what is on offer, help them plan for the future and know where to go for help.

Current “signposting services” will not be enough and it is likely local authorities will need to commission a range of services from basic online information to advocacy services for individuals.

Reductions in state funding means that many local authorities are restricting entitlement and increasing charges in relation to telecare services. More and more authorities are signposting people to the consumer market for self-purchase of services.

However, the main barrier to take-up of telecare services continues to be awareness – with almost two-thirds of families still unaware of the technology available.

What is good signposting?

  • Providing quality and reliable information on services and options
  • Impartial and transparent advice
  • Delivering someone “safely” – knowing the product or service is the right one for that individual

More than 300 organisations in England are currently providing direct or signposted access to telecare services, although the level of service is variable.

What hinders signposting?

  • Lack of information or awareness on how or where to purchase
  • Lack of help in choosing the best product or service to meet the need and be cost-effective
  • Associating ‘needs assessment’ with purchase of assistive living products or services, and not wanting to undergo assessment
  • Lack of information about ways of paying for products or services through local authority funding (e.g. personal budgets)

Responsibilities of service providers

There is a large choice of systems available, ranging from simple pendants which trigger a pager in another part of a home to pendants which dial, via a telephone line, directly to a 24-hour monitoring station, and even systems which will alert someone if you do not move around your home as you normally would. There are also specific services to support people at risk of falls, and mobile services to give reassurance when away from home.

Having a range of flexible, value-for-money solutions, easily accessible to the local self-funder market is becoming increasingly important to support people to live as independently, securely, healthily and happily as they are able and empower them to make choices about their own wellbeing without recourse to statutory services.

It is also incumbent upon providers to ensure that they build relationships with health, social care and trusted advocates in order that their solutions can be easily understood and presented as options to people with telecare requirements.

Telecare: sources of impartial advice

There are a number of independent organisations who provide information for signposting to telecare services in the UK including:

  • The Telecare Services Association (TSA) is the representative body for the telecare industry within the UK. Its website contains details of telecare products on the market and services in local areas
  • The Disabled Living Foundation factsheets provide general advice on a range of equipment.
  • Ricability is a national charity which provides consumer reports and tests products used by disabled and older people.