3 Monitoring and responding to telecare

Telecare systems can be linked to a call centre or to the pager or mobile phone of a carer. Call centres are by far the most common option for home users of telecare, their primary advantage being that a call centre is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

An alternative option is to have the telecare system send alerts to an individual carer or relative, via a pager or mobile phone. This set-up is used sometimes with carers who work in care homes and in domestic environments. It is very suitable for supporting a partner, but would only be practical if the nominated carer(s) or relative(s) were able to respond at any time of day or night and on any day of the year.

Responding to telecare

Assuming that the telecare system is linked to and monitored by a telecare service provider (call centre), the following is an overview of what might happen if an alarm is triggered by one of the telecare sensors:

  • When an alarm is received by the call centre, the call centre operator will look at the agreed procedure to follow – for the individual in question, and based on which sensor has triggered the alert.
  • The action(s) they then take will vary. For example, if the alert has come from the smoke detector, the first action will almost certainly be to call the local fire brigade.
  • In another example, if the alert has come from a flood detector in the bathroom, the operator might decide to call the older person and ask if they are aware that the bath is overflowing. The telecare system’s base unit has the ability to provide a two-way communication channel; it contains a loud speaker, so the operator’s voice will carry over long distances. Even if the person at home has fallen in an upstairs bedroom, they should be able to speak to the call centre directly (the operating distance of the communication function is normally checked when the system is first installed).
  • If further help is needed, the operator could call a nearby relative or neighbour.

However, there are other situations where it would not be appropriate for the call centre to be alerted. For example, if your relative’s bedsheets needed changing during the night, it would be more appropriate for a message to be sent to a relative or carer who lives with, or near to, the person. The system can be set up in this way, with a protocol created for each sensor tailored to the individual’s circumstances or preferences.

If you are going to arrange a telecare service for your relative, discuss your and their needs with the service provider.

Page last reviewed: March 2015
Next review due: November 2016