Thousands of Essex residents to benefit from £2m telecare project

A new project using the latest technology to help 4,000 people from all over Essex maintain their health and independence will be launched in Colchester next week (11 Dec).

Thousands of Essex residents to benefit from £2m telecare project

A new project using the latest technology to help 4,000 people from all over Essex maintain their health and independence will be launched in Colchester next week (11 Dec).

People expected to benefit from telecare will include those with chronic (long-term) conditions, such as diabetes and COPD, and people with very limited mobility because of severe physical impairment.

The technology involves the use of sensors in a person’s own home which constantly monitor aspects of their lifestyle, feeding information to a monitoring centre where staff can respond to untoward situations by phoning the individual concerned, arranging a home visit, calling the emergency services or by alerting family members.

Essex County Council has been awarded £2.075m of central government money over two years to roll out telecare services to 4,000 people in Essex (with the exception of the unitary authorities of Southend and Thurrock) by March 2008.

Gary Raynor, the council’s telecare services development manager, said the authority was working in partnership with other councils, the NHS and the housing and voluntary sectors to identify people who could benefit.

“Surveys show that the vast majority of people prefer to stay in their own home and telecare promotes independence,” he said. “It also means that some people can leave hospital earlier because telecare enables them to be monitored at home.

“There is also evidence to show that many people prefer to be monitored in this way rather than have care workers pop round every day just to see if they’re all right.

“However, it is important to stress that telecare is not a panacea – it can’t empty a commode, for example! – but if used appropriately it can help people to live an independent life with the confidence that help is readily at hand if something goes wrong.”

Demonstrations of how telecare can help in the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen will be given at next week’s launch at the Independent Living Centre which is run jointly by Essex Equipment Service, Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust, North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Colchester Catalyst Charity.

Mr Raynor gave some examples of how telecare can help:

· people can carry a small sensor on their person that will alert someone if they fall and are unable to get up or injured

· a personal ECG monitor will enable people to use a phoneline to send detailed information about their heart to a clinic, outpatient clinic or monitoring centre

· telecare can be used to automatically dispense pills to someone in their own home and to raise the alarm if it is believed they have not been taken

· sensors can monitor air temperatures in a room and alert a monitoring centre if they rise too high, as in the case of a fire, or fall so low that there is a danger of hypothermia

· sensors can monitor carbon monoxide levels and automatically open windows and turn a fan on if they rise to dangerous levels

· people with limited mobility can use telecare technology to turn lights on and open curtains.

The cost of equipment and its installation will be free but there is a weekly fee of £4-£6 for the monitoring service and if a professional, rather than a family member, is alerted.

There is evidence that telecare has the potential to reduce the number of people, usually with chronic conditions, who are admitted frequently to hospital.

Mr Raynor said telecare technology began about 25 years ago with basic pendant alarm services where people could press a button on a necklace to summon help.

Many local authorities, including Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council, run monitoring centres, he added.

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For further information:

Contact Mark Prentice or Patrick Lowman of Geronimo Communications on 01206 742347 or 01284 768935.

6 December 2006

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