We all value and often take for granted our independence, however sometimes additional support is needed to help maintain our autonomy. 

It’s estimated that one in three people over the age of 65 will have a fall this year,* but ‘the use of monitored devices can reduce overall hospital admissions in older adults by 50% and reduce hospital admissions specifically due to falls by 44%’.**

This is where assistive technology comes in – so what exactly is it?

Assistive technology is a term used for adaptive, assistive and rehabilitative devices typically used by the elderly or those with complex needs, mobility issues or learning disabilities. 

Assistive technology, community personal alarms and telecare provide help and support to those who have difficulty performing daily tasks, and can help keep our older and more vulnerable members of the community living independently at home for longer.

Steve Gates, managing director at Taking Care, told us: ‘Assistive technology can play a huge part in helping people to continue to live an active and independent life. There are a range of devices available, such as wearable alarms or preventative and connected home solutions, to cater for any requirement both at home or out and about. 

‘These kinds of systems can help maintain independence, minimise the risk of accidents happening in the first place, and keep people living full and active lives in the environments that they love and feel most comfortable in, for longer than might otherwise be possible.’

Assistive technology services are available all over the UK, ranging from private providers such as Age UK and Taking Care to services run by councils or local authorities – and these are often subsidised by the councils for their local county.

 

So what are the costs?

As with most services, costs vary and are dependent on individual circumstances. Some organisations will charge higher rates than others for equipment and some have call charges included. 

As mentioned above, some councils subsidise the service. Stephanie Bevan, Marketing & Relationships Officer at North Herts Council, told us that they help fund services for Herts Careline with transparent and straightforward pricing with no means testing. 

We asked Stephanie what kind of support people could find locally and what’s available through the Herts Careline.

She said: ‘The equipment on offer all connects into the alarm base unit and alerts the control room in an emergency.’ 

It includes but is not limited to:

  • Alarm base unit and pendant The alarm unit sends an alert call to our control centre when the pendant or other sensor is triggered 24/7.
  • Fall detector Detects falls automatically and sends an alert for help.
  • Smoke detector If it senses smoke it automatically sends an alert to the control centre; this can be a potential lifesaver.
  • Bed and floor mats To ensure a person has returned to their chair, bed or room during the day or night.
  • Many other devices to help with medication reminders, panic buttons and an outdoor locator pendant.

See the full list from Herts Careline which is similar to other organisations. 

The main aim of assistive technology is to help delay an individual’s need to go into a care home, giving them the ability to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. 

It supports independence and provides safety by providing tech such as sensors, alarm buttons and devices which all manage risks and can call for help in case of an emergency. 

Calls are taken 24/7, 365 days a year by trained operatives who can arrange the appropriate help quickly. This could be by contacting a family member to do a reassurance check, calling a doctor or an ambulance in a medical emergency, or a fire engine or the police. Operators work to a procedure for every eventuality and will only end a call once help is on the way.Find out more:

When we spoke with Steve Gates from Taking Care, he said: ‘A personal alarm will help you remain independent by providing a way to get help, day or night, in any emergency. Research has shown that having a personal alarm reduces overall hospital admissions in older adults by 50% and by 44% where admissions were due specifically to falls.’***

Assistive technology not only provides support to the user, but also to family members, providing them with peace of mind that their loved ones are supported and that help is on hand as a backup if they’re ever unavailable due to work, an activity or are away on holiday.

* NHS Falls Prevention www.nhs.uk/conditions/falls/

** Professor James Brown, Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing

*** Havering London Borough Health and Wellbeing Board www.democracy.havering.gov.uk/documents/s9914/HWB%20-

20paper%20on%20AT%20v5.pdf

Find out more:

How to choose a home care agency

Live-in care options

How to employ private carers