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The Essentials of Telecare Equipment: Ultimate Guide to Telecare

Table of Contents

Telecare equipment acts as a vital lifeline for older people. With a wide range of devices available, individuals are able to manage many different aspects of daily life themselves. This creates a safe and supported environment, allowing them to continue to live as independently as possible, with the confidence help is on hand if necessary.

In this third part of our Ultimate Guide to Telecare, we look at the essentials of telecare equipment and how this can be used to deliver effective and flexible telecare services. This covers:

– What is telecare equipment?

– The different telecare devices on the market and how these can be used

– How telecare equipment can promote safety and independence

– Key considerations when choosing telecare equipment

While the guide is aimed at housing providers and other organisations who deliver telecare services, you’ll also find this useful if you’re looking at telecare for yourself or a family member as this explains the important information in plain English.

We’re pleased to collaborate with the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN) to bring you this Ultimate Guide to Telecare.

“Technology is advancing at pace, with digital innovations rapidly transforming the way health and care is provided in the home and home-like environments. All housing providers must ensure the accommodation they manage or plan to build is digitally enabled so residents are not excluded from any services, equipment or products that require internet connectivity.

From telecare to smart speakers, and from Wi-Fi-assistive technology to smart metering, the housing sector urgently needs to switch on to becoming ‘digi-ready’ or risk preventing residents being able to fully access all the online choices that can support their independent living.

This Ultimate Guide to Telecare is an introduction to the fundamentals of telecare, with information on how housing providers can maximise their care and support offer so people can enjoy a greater quality of life.” 

Jeremy Porteus, Chief Executive, Housing LIN

What is telecare equipment?

Telecare equipment is used to monitor the health and safety of older or vulnerable people, either through the use of wearable devices or sensors in the home. This means individuals can live more independently, with the ability to access help quickly and easily when needed.

There are many different types of telecare devices but all are designed to be user-friendly and straightforward to use. The equipment includes emergency response features, such as a panic button or automatic alerts, which connect to a monitoring centre for a swift response in the event of a problem.

Telecare equipment can also be used for the proactive monitoring of a person’s wellbeing. For example, different sensors can be used to build a picture of a person’s daily habits, flagging any changes to their routine that may indicate a potential health issue.

What types of telecare equipment are available?

There is a wide range of telecare equipment on the market, including personal alarms, sensors for the home and other monitoring systems.

These target certain aspects of daily living and can be used separately or in conjunction to create a bespoke support system, depending on a person’s specific needs.

The types of telecare equipment include:

Telecare pendant alarms

Pendent alarms are a good general solution, providing a safety net for older people and reassurance for family members. These are personal alarms, generally worn either as a pendent around the neck or a bracelet around the wrist. The pendent features a button, which can be pressed to send an alarm call to the monitoring centre if the person feels unwell or has suffered a fall.

Fall detectors

Falls amongst older people are a common concern, affecting around 1 in 3 adults over 65. Fall detectors offer quick and easy access to medical support, which can reduce the impact of a fall. As a wearable device, these can automatically detect a fall and raises an alarm, or the person can manually call for help. Depending on the design, fall detectors are worn around the wrist or the neck or clipped on as a brooch or to a belt. Sensitivity levels can often be adjusted to suit different levels of activity.

Telecare bed or chair sensors

These are beneficial for anyone who needs a greater degree of monitoring at home. A pressure mat is placed on a chair or in a bed, which will detect if this is occupied or not. The sensors can flag if there is any unexpected activity, such as if a person has got up but not returned after a certain amount of time or if they haven’t moved over a period of time. This triggers an alert, which is sent to the monitoring centre, where the call operators can arrange for a check.

Motion sensors

Motion sensors also provide an increased level of monitoring by checking whether a person is moving around their home as usual. They can be placed in the property to keep an eye on activity levels and send an alert if they detect an unexpected period of inactivity. With some digital telecare systems, daily movement can be linked to an “I’m OK” function so staff know when a visit may not be required.

Door sensors

These are particularly useful for people living with dementia as the sensor detects when the front door is opened. This can flag if the door was opened at certain times, such as during the night, or if it has been left open.

Environmental sensors

These can be used throughout the home to provide an early warning for a variety of potential safety issues. This includes flood detectors, which can be positioned in the kitchen or bathroom to flag if water is overflowing or a tap has been left on; smoke, gas or heat detectors, which emit a loud audible alert as well as sending a message to the alarm receiving device; and temperature sensors, which detect if the temperature is too hot or cold in the home.

How telecare equipment improves independence and safety

There are many situations where a person may require some level of additional support as they get older but don’t need the constant supervision of a care or nursing home environment.

Telecare helps people manage many aspects of daily living so they can remain as independent as possible.

Thanks to the range of telecare equipment available, telecare services can be tailored to people’s specific challenges and needs. This allows them to live more safely, with the ability to control when and how they receive outside assistance.

In particular, digital telecare has made it possible to create powerful and joined-up solutions that integrate with other services. As well as being a safer and more reliable option, this has expanded the benefits of telecare, for both the people using this and the organisations providing these vital services.

How to choose the right telecare equipment

With a variety of devices on the market, it’s important to think about your priorities when it comes to selecting the right telecare equipment.

If you’re looking for telecare for yourself or a loved one, AgeUK provides some useful pointers before making a purchase.

As a housing provider or local authority, your telecare services will cover a much larger group and potentially span multiple properties from mainstream housing to purpose-built accommodation for older people such as retirement or sheltered housing, or extra care housing. It’s therefore important your telecare equipment is able to meet diverse needs and be part of a flexible solution. Don’t be afraid to ask suppliers lots of questions to determine if their telecare products are suitable.

Key considerations include:

– Does the telecare equipment meet the relevant safety standards? The main series of standards for digital telecare are BS EN 50134, which relate to social alarm systems. Look for the BSI Kitemark on equipment.

– Is the equipment compatible with your existing systems and devices, including any building management systems? Can it be easily integrated?

– Is the telecare equipment ‘future proof’ – i.e. does this offer a scalable solution to accommodate growth, changes in residents’ needs or upgrades to your telecare systems?

– Are you able to configure and customise the devices based on individual requirements?

– Can the equipment be monitored and maintained remotely to improve staff efficiency?

– What training is available so your staff are able to use and troubleshoot any issues with the devices?

– Has the telecare equipment been tested on the digital network? This is essential as the digital phone switchover Ask to see evidence testing has been carried out and the results of this.

A note from Housing LIN:

“Telecare is an important element of technology enabled care, helping housing providers personalise the care they offer and deliver better outcomes for people. As such, the purchasing of telecare equipment should be part of an overall ‘tech’ strategy. 

This should be guided by the overarching principles formed during phase one of the Technology for our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation (TAPPI) project. The project aims to improve the way technology is used in housing and care for older people, with the key TAPPI principles providing a best practice framework.

Older people are not one uniform group. The principle of co-production reflects this, encouraging individuals to become involved in creating the solutions that inform how they want to live their lives.

Interoperability is also key. This avoids housing providers being ‘locked in’ to one supplier, giving the flexibility to ‘mix and match’ telecare equipment to meet the needs, aspirations and preferences of the people using these products and services.”

Continue our Ultimate Guide to Telecare

Telecare equipment is a core component of your telecare services. With many devices on the market, however, it’s essential to understand what you want to achieve to ensure your telecare equipment is part of a comprehensive and customisable solution for the people you support.

Our Ultimate Guide to Telecare is aimed at housing providers and local authorities and answers your questions about telecare and how you can make the most of the technology to support your customers. Parts four will be coming out very soon and will be covering:

– What are the benefits of telecare?



About Appello

Appello is a market leader in digital telecare and Technology Enabled Care (TEC). We work with housing providers to deliver safer and happier communities, using technology to help empower and enrich people’s lives. We’ve been creating and delivering digital telecare for a long time now, so you can feel confident that we have all the essentials covered while also providing innovative and comprehensive solutions. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

About Housing LIN

The Housing LIN is a sophisticated network bringing together over 20,000 housing, health and social care professionals in England, Wales and Scotland to exemplify innovative housing and technology solutions for an ageing population. Recognised by government and industry as a leading ‘ideas lab’ on specialist/supported housing, our online and regional networked activities, and consultancy services:

  • connect people, ideas and resources to inform and improve the range of housing that enables older and disabled people to live independently in a home of their choice,
  • provide insight and intelligence on latest funding, research, policy and practice to support sector learning and improvement,
  • showcase what’s best in specialist/supported housing and feature innovative projects and services that demonstrate how lives of people have been transformed, and
  • support commissioners and providers to review their existing provision and develop, test out and deliver solutions so that they are best placed to respond to their customers’ changing needs and aspirations.

For information about the Housing LIN’s comprehensive list of online resources on technology enable care and housing, visit: https://www.housinglin.org.uk/TECH/