Residents are being consulted on proposed changes to who is eligible to receive free community alarms and telecare services.
Around 5,000 older and vulnerable people currently use the technology funded by the county council which provides 24-hour monitoring to ensure they are safe and well at home.
Residents can have their say online.
People who receive community alarms and telecare have been sent copies of the questionnaire through the post to fill in and return and a series of public events have been held around the county.
The consultation closes on Friday 25 January.
People are being asked for their views on:
- Continuing to provide community alarm and telecare equipment free of charge to everyone but service monitoring and maintenance charges may be paid for by the client following a financial assessment.
- Changing the criteria so that only people who are assessed as being eligible to receive services under the Care Act 2014 receive community alarms and telecare services for free.
- People who currently receive housing benefit or pension credit may remain eligible to receive community alarms and telecare services for free but only if they meet the Care Act 2014 criteria. Following the assessment there may be a requirement for them to pay towards these services.
- People will be assessed 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.
- Self-funding clients who are not eligible for financial support and who have been provided with telecare equipment free of charge would be required to pay the full costs of monitoring and maintenance.
- 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.
- Telecare and community alarm 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.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Care Councillor Jean Wharmby said:
“We’d like to hear from as many people as possible which is why we have written to everyone who receives the service. I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t completed the questionnaire to return it to us.
“We’re committed to supporting older people to live independently at home but as the demand on our services increases, we must ensure we’re using our resources effectively and supporting those people who need us most."
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 £1m.