Monday, 14 May 2012

8 important points about personal alarms for the elderly and disabled

1. Around 2,000,000 people in the UK use personal alarms. By the time you’ve finished reading these points many would have pressed their pendants asking for help. As a result some avoid sustained injuries, some will be reassured and some could literally save their life.   

2. With regret pendants are stigmatized and some who can benefit from them avoid using them. This is partly because of the way pendants are portrayed in popular TV shows, such as in Gavin & Stacy.  In fact, in real life when people get to that stage pendants will not be of much use to them.

3. Many of those who have a pendant may go for months without using it. This can give them a sense that they don’t need it. So they may not wear it or not even be aware of its whereabouts. Therefore, many are not able to use their pendants when they need it most.

4. The data that is passed to the call centre by clients or their families are vital in arranging help at the time of emergencies. Many people forget that they are the key contact for a friend, relative or a neighbour. Many may change their Key Safe’s PIN number without informing the call centre. The key holder may relocate to a different city or even a different country. So it’s important for the call centre to have up-to-date information about a client.

5. Pendants need to be tested regularly. First, this is how their batteries are charged. Second, many older people may lose capacity to even press their pendants. This helps them and their families make a decision about using automatic sensors or planning alternative contingencies. Or even considering other forms of care.

6. Most new personal alarm units are modular meaning other sensors can be added to the system as and when required, for example, motion detectors.

7. Mistakes can happen! Some providers program personal alarms remotely and sent them to their clients via post. If there is no rigorous quality checks in place people may receive an alarm that is destined for another person. The recipient of such an alarm can call for help. However, help will be sent to the person for whom the alarm was originally programmed! So it is vital to test the pendants when received through post and ask the operator specifically to check the data they’re holding for that personal alarm on their system.

8. In 2006 central government allocated £80 million to kick start the application of assistive technology in supporting older people remain independent at their own home. This was nationally referred to as Telecare. Reams of paper were consumed to write telecare strategies, teams were set up to implement those strategies and many service users wondered what telecare were. While some local authorities managed to set up innovative telecare projects many did not move beyond personal alarms. This is partly because personal alarms are the bread and butter of telecare! So if you or a family member is referred by a health care worker to a Telecare team don’t expect anything complex. It can simply be a personal alarm! Or a personal alarm with a few more devices that you probably know . These can be a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector or a mat that is known as bed occupancy sensor. They all function through personal alarm unit and link a resident to the call centre the same way a pendant does. However, they react to the environment automatically.
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