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Council to consider changing community alarms and telecare

Published: 30 May 2019

We will consider changes to the way older and vulnerable people are supported to live safely at home next week.

Our cabinet will be asked to agree to change who is eligible to receive community alarms and telecare services when it meets on 6 June 2019.

Around 5,000 older and vulnerable people currently have access to community alarms and telecare that we fund – providing 24-hour monitoring to ensure they are safe and well at home.

Councillors will be asked to agree that from 1 November 2019 only people who are assessed under the Care Act 2014 will be eligible to receive the community alarms and telecare service.

While community alarms and telecare equipment would be provided for free, people may be required to pay towards monitoring and maintenance charges following a financial assessment.

However, in a change to what had been proposed, Cabinet is recommended to agree that people who currently receive the service for free would continue to do so while they remain at their current property.

Councillor Jean Wharmby, our Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said:

“During our consultation, a lot of the people we spoke to had received this service for many years and relied on it to live independently.

“They said they felt more secure because help was on hand if they needed it but if a charge was introduced they would no longer be able to afford to use it, affecting their ability to remain safely at home.

“We are committed to helping people live independently but this change could have resulted in people needing to use other adult care or health services or having to go in to a care home or hospital.

“So we’ve listened to their concerns which is why we are proposing there should be no change for people who currently receive community alarms and telecare, as long as their circumstances don’t alter.”

Almost 2,000 people gave their views as part of a 10-week consultation by the county council in to the proposed changes.

With savings of £12 million to make this year, we have to ensure all our services are as efficient as possible, offer value for money and support those people most in need.

Members of our cabinet will be asked to agree to:

  • Change the criteria to only provide equipment and monitoring to people who are assessed as being eligible to receive services under the Care Act 2014.
  • Assess eligible clients to see if they need to contribute towards on-going monitoring and maintenance costs. Some people may be able to use their personal budget to pay for the service.
  • Where non-eligible Care Act clients need community equipment, community alarms and telecare equipment would be considered if it would prevent a health or social care need. When no longer needed, the equipment would be removed. 
  • People who are not eligible for financial support would be required to pay the full costs of monitoring and maintenance if they decide to use the community alarms or telecare service.
  • If a self-funding client becomes eligible for financial support under the Care Act 2014 they could use their personal budget to pay for on-going monitoring and maintenance.
  • Community alarms and telecare equipment and monitoring would be provided free for people – whether eligible under the Care Act or not – for a period of six weeks to enable them to return home from hospital. If they were subsequently assessed as needing the equipment it would be under the terms listed above.

Councillor Wharmby added:

“We are committed to supporting older people to live independently at home but this service has run in the same way for several years.

“As demand on our services increases we need to ensure we are using our resources to support those people who need us most and that they offer value for money.

“This is a first step in making sure we maximise the benefits of using a range of technology in the future to support vulnerable adults in Derbyshire.”

Community alarms provide a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week monitoring service where the older person wears a wristband or pendant which will summon help if an alert is triggered.

An operator will then speak to the resident to assess how they can support them, for instance by offering reassurance, contacting a family member or ringing for an ambulance.

Extra support is also available through Telecare to people who have greater needs.

This includes sensors to turn on lights to prevent falls at night, detectors fitted to front doors to raise the alarm if a person leaves home or gas and water sensors which can detect if taps or cookers have been left on.

The current service is operated by 12 separate providers across the county with an annual budget of just over £1 million.