SECOM’s Christmas Safety Tips

While Christmas is a time for giving, it can also be a time for taking. Insurance claims for theft over the Christmas period can rocket by more than 20%. Crowded shops, large ATM withdrawals, expensive presents, being away from home for longer and the distraction of the hustle and bustle all add up to opportunities for thieves – and heartbreak for you and your family.

This year SECOM have shared some useful tips to help remind you that preparing for your safety and security is vital for the lead up to Christmas to keep your home and family safe and secure whilst you enjoy the festive season. Share this blog with your family and friends to help keep everyone safe across the country.

Out and about Christmas shopping

  • Be vigilant when withdrawing money from an ATM. Simply move on if there are any suspicious-looking individuals hanging around. Always shield the keypad with your hand to protect your PIN number.
  • If you feel the ATM isn’t working properly, press Cancel to withdraw your card and try another machine.
  • Keep your personal belongings close to your body and carry as little cash as possible. Be aware of who is around you when using your mobile phone in public places and keep valuables out of sight.
  • Doing your Christmas shopping early means less crowds and less opportunity for pickpockets.
  • Do not leave presents and bags on show in vehicles as it’s easy pickings and always park in well-lit public places.

Keep your home safe and secure this Christmas

  • Don’t leave your presents and gifts under your Christmas tree or on display. Carefully dispose of any packaging from expensive gifts.
  • With an increase in online shopping, package theft is more common. Installing a video doorbell is a great way to monitor package deliveries and also speak to unwanted visitors.
  • The best deterrent for burglaries is to invest in a smart home security system installed by professionals like us to give you peace of mind 24/7 whether you are home or away.
  • Always fit good-quality locks on doors and windows. If you go out even for a short time, make sure you lock up and always keep keys away from windows and doors.
  • If you are away for Christmas, make the house look occupied. If you have smart switches or smart lights, you can automate these to turn off and on. You can also turn on a radio.
  • If you’re going to be away for several days, ask someone you trust to empty your post box and check on your home.
  • Make sure you don’t announce your travel plans on social media. You don’t know who is watching.
  • Encourage communication with neighbors and consider forming a neighborhood watch during the holiday season. Look out for each other’s homes and report any suspicious activity.

Fire safety at Christmas

  • Make sure you don’t overload your plugs sockets, as this is the most common cause of home fires.
  • Ensure that your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and other home security alarms are in good working condition. You should replace the batteries once a year.
  • Be cautious with holiday decorations, especially those that involve lights or candles. Ensure that all decorations are placed away from flammable materials and turned off when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • If you have a Christmas tree, make sure it is well-secured to prevent accidental tipping, especially if you have pets or small children. Water the tree regularly to reduce the risk of it drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Don’t let too many cooks spoil your holiday. Avoid overcrowding the kitchen and keep flammable items away from your cooking area. Keep children out of the kitchen if possible, and watch them closely when they are present.
  • Be alert when cooking. If you’re sleepy or have consumed alcohol, set timers and don’t leave anything unattended otherwise you may ruin your Christmas dinner.
  • Be careful when frying anything. In the event of a small grease fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Remove lid once completely cooled. Small oven fires can be put out by turning off the heat the keeping the door closed.

We hope you enjoy our Christmas safety tips. Stay safe and have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year from everyone at SECOM!

Check out our 2023 Christmas card!

Smart Home Security

From intruder alarms, CCTV and video doorbells, SECOM’s Smart Security can keep your home and your family safe this Christmas. Get in touch with us to find out more and get a free quote.

Is your Personal Alarm Futureproof?

What you need to know

The UK’s telecoms network is about to undergo a significant change. This change may not be a problem for some landline users and won’t affect our customers. But it’s important that you understand what is changing and why some personal alarm services may be affected.

How is the UK’s telephone network changing?

Smartphones are a big part of our lives. We use them all the time to shop online and find out information, so it’s weird to think that they haven’t been around for long and we used to stay in touch using landlines.

Millions of landlines are still in use today and use an old analogue system called the Public Switch Telephone Network, or PSTN. This network is increasingly expensive to maintain and doesn’t offer the same benefits as more modern technologies, which is why Openreach and Virgin Media are discontinuing PSTN and upgrading to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

How will this affect my personal alarm?

If you have a personal alarm with us, you needn’t worry. All of our products are futureproof and won’t be affected by the switchover. This isn’t true for every organisation though. So if you’re with another provider or thinking of using a different personal alarm service, it’s important that you make sure their products aren’t landline dependent.

How do CareTech personal alarms work?

CareTech devices don’t rely on landlines or the internet but use built-in SIM cards to connect to a monitoring centre. These connections are incredibly reliable and mean our range of personal alarms won’t be affected by the upcoming changes to the telecoms network.

Where can I find out more information about this?

If you’d like to learn more about how the UK telecoms network is changing and how it might affect you, Ofcom have put together an entire page dedicated to the future of fixed telephone services. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 012 1385. Our customer care team is always happy to answer questions and are available Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 5pm.

A Decade of Innovation: Celebrating 10 Years of the Remote Support Desk

What an incredible journey it has been for those who have been part of the Remote Support Desk (RSD) since its inception in 2013. RSD plays an integral part in supporting SECOM’s service delivery and has aided a significant improvement to our customer service over the years. The story began against the backdrop of the 2012 London Olympics, when SECOM identified a crucial need to support its clients in Westfield shopping centres, which were temporarily closed for the grand event. This marked the first step in what would become a remarkable journey, one that has brought this momentous milestone of RSD’s 10th anniversary. Andy Lister, Head of Service Delivery, who was a key contributor to RSD’s success, reflects on the journey:

“Our journey was steered by the vision of Operations Director Paul Weaver, who, with previous experience in technical support desks, understood the profound impact they could have on service delivery. My own experience working on a technical support desk aligned perfectly with Paul’s vision, and together, we saw the potential of bringing a technical support desk to life. Through Paul’s unwavering determination, we managed to secure a modest budget of £1,500, and that’s where it all began.

“Our early days were a true testament to our dedication. We were resourceful, borrowing servers and monitors, and setting up shop in my little office in Leeds. With just one dedicated engineer and a trainee, we officially launched RSD in 2013.

“We were determined to forge new paths in remote support, and our partnerships with panel manufacturers and signalling providers played a pivotal role. Through extensive research and development efforts, we not only embraced remote solutions but also pioneered innovative technology that is now used industry wide. This pioneering spirit is something I take immense pride in.

“Our journey was not without its challenges. Initially, convincing engineers that RSD was developed to assist them, rather than replace them, proved to be an uphill battle. It took time and patience to help engineers understand the true value that RSD brought to their work. Over the years, we steadily expanded our network of remotely connectable sites, always with a focus on increasing connections and improving our customers’ wait times for issue resolution. Our team evolved as well, with more dedicated and skilled engineers joining our ranks.

“In 2016, everything changed when we won a tender to take over intruder, CCTV, access control, and guarding for one of the UK’s largest food retailers. Facing tight timelines, we made the bold decision to carry out most of the takeover remotely, leveraging RSD’s unique skill set. Within just three years of its launch, RSD played an instrumental role in the largest takeover in SECOM’s global history. The team managed over 100 new connections daily for three intense months, and I have no doubt that without RSD, this takeover wouldn’t have been as successful.

“As time passed, our team continued to develop their skills and training. Now, our team primarily consists of RSD engineers with no field engineering background, a testament to the comprehensive training programs we’ve developed to ensure we attract and nurture the right talent for RSD.

Our achievements have been remarkable. From a fix rate of 40-45% in 2014, the team now consistently exceeds this target, with an average fix percentage ranging between 70-75%. We’ve also added planned preventative maintenance visits, conducting around 300-1,000 remote PPMs monthly to support our field engineers.

“The PSTN project remains a focal point for us, as we strive to connect to as many systems as possible to assist engineers and clients whenever needed.

“Our current team, led by Jake Hayward as the Team Leader and Connor Turner as the Senior Engineer, wholeheartedly commits to assisting with any panel or issue they believe they can resolve remotely. Their dedication to continuous improvement mirrors the mindset we’ve always held within RSD, and I couldn’t be prouder of the team. The fact they are still supported by Chris Spencer as the National Service Bureau Manager speaks volumes to the dedication we have had over the years.

“I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contributed to RSD’s success. A special thanks to Paul Weaver and Chris Spencer, who have been with me on this remarkable journey from the very beginning, and to all the engineers who have made our connections possible.

“Here’s to another decade of innovation and many more milestones in the future. Happy 10th anniversary, RSD!”

5 Tips for Staying in Touch with Elderly Relatives

Loneliness can be very harmful. Nearly a quarter of over-65s feel depressed because of loneliness, and a staggering 1 in 5 keep the telly on just to hear a human voice.

The next few months are going to prove crucial for many older people’s mental health. What with lockdown and the onset of winter, millions of elderly people are going to feel increasingly isolated. By touching base with elderly relatives, you can help them avoid social isolation and monitor their mental health.

1. Schedule regular calls

Scheduling phone calls or video calls is a great way to combat loneliness. An hour a week is all it takes and most families find it easy to squeeze in. If things come up during the week, try to reschedule your calls rather than cancel it altogether. Cancelling a video call may not feel like a big deal to you – your life is probably full of regular social interactions. But for someone over the age of 65, it could mean the difference between feeling connected and not speaking to anyone at all.

2. Create a WhatsApp group chat

When we talk about staying in touch with friends and family, the emphasis is usually on the talking. Not everyone is so keen on talking over the phone though, and some people even experience something called ‘phone phobia’, a type of social anxiety.

WhatsApp is one of the most popular ways to stay connected and has the added benefit of instant messaging. If your elderly loved one is uncomfortable talking over the phone, introduce them to WhatsApp and set up a group of close friends and family.

It may take them a while to get used to instant messaging – you may need to explain the difference between a grey tick and two blue ticks, what certain acronyms mean and what a meme is. But in the end, we’re confident anyone can get to grips with WhatsApp.

3. Write a letter

Getting back to basics may sound like an odd idea, but the key advantage to sending a letter isn’t its speed or size but its ability to make a connection. Handwritten letters sprayed with aftershave or perfume, or sent with photographs and keepsakes, feel much more personal.

Invest in some nice stationery before writing your letter, something that shows you’ve put some thought into it. Then whip out your pen and get started. Your letter doesn’t have to be gushing or full of deep thoughts. Anything that comes to mind will do. Just make sure you’re open and honest, and ask your recipient lots of questions so they have a reason to write back.

4. Celebrate important occasions

If you or a loved one has a birthday or special anniversary during lockdown, make sure you plan ahead and remember to celebrate the occasion. It’s not uncommon for those who feel isolated or alone to feel even worse on days when they should be out celebrating.

If an older relative is shielding indoors, arrange for cakes and party treats to be delivered to their home (use a contactless delivery service). That way they can open presents and eat something tasty when you call. Singing Happy Birthday over phone is a nice way to make them feel special too.

5. Listen

Staying connected is all about keeping in contact and talking regularly. However, it’s also important to listen and not overstep other’s boundaries.

Elderly relatives may feel lonely and want to talk from time to time. But they may also enjoy their own company and need their own space. If an elderly loved one says they’ll speak to you in a week’s time, give them the space they’ve asked for and leave it a week before calling them again. If you’re worried an elderly relative isn’t talking because of an underlying mental health condition, be patient and give them time to open up. Often a short message letting your loved one know that you’re thinking of them in between calls is enough to bring them out of their shell.

Following these tips can be a great help to combat loneliness. SECOM CareTech also have solutions to help keep you connected with elderly relatives, such as our personal alarms and smart home monitoring solutions.

The Benefits of Independent Living for Older People

As we get older, remaining independent for as long as possible will be a top priority for many of us. According to research highlighted by the Good Care Group, 97% of older people want to remain in their own homes for the rest of their lives, rather than move into residential care.

It’s inevitable that as people age, they’ll need more assistance. Putting in place the right support to keep them safe and maintain self-sufficiency can ensure the elderly stay in charge of their own retirement and keep them healthy and active for longer.

As well as providing the infrastructure at home to help older people complete everyday tasks, it’s also important to prepare for situations when something goes wrong. The risk of falling rises with age and more than one in four over-65s fall each year.

Equipping a loved one with a personal alarm or installing a smart home monitoring system in their home can offer peace of mind in case of an emergency. ‘Long lies’, where an individual remains on the floor for an extended period of time can have a negative impact on health and severely damage confidence, so it’s important to have a fall alarm on hand.

The benefits of staying independent

Staying independent offers a wide range of benefits for older people, as it can maintain both their physical and mental health. For instance, living independently can help to keep elderly individuals’ minds active, which reduces some of the memory loss and other cognitive decline issues often associated with old age.

The link between good physical health and strong mental health is well-known, and this works both ways. People who keep their minds active are also more likely to remain physically active as well. Retaining the responsibility to stock the cupboards or tend a garden ensures an active lifestyle is second nature as a person grows older.

Maintaining independence also helps give older people a greater sense of purpose and identity. Being able to set their own routine, keep in contact with friends and relatives and continue doing activities they enjoy helps prevent feelings of depression or isolation, which AgeUK notes are very common among older people.

The challenges facing older people with respect to their independence

As well as any physical limitations that people may find themselves struggling with as they get older, one of the major barriers to independence for many individuals may be concern about what might happen should they have an issue.

Falls, for example, are a common worry for older people. The NHS notes this is the leading cause of injury for elderly individuals, with around a third of over-65s and half of those aged 80 or above experiencing a fall at least once a year.

Worries about this can easily lead to older people curtailing their activities, so it’s vital that they have the support and assistance they need to gain peace of mind and minimise their risk. Loss of confidence is a huge threat to independence as we age and just one fall can be worrisome.

Of course, it’s not only older people themselves who worry about their health as they age. Family members will naturally be concerned and are likely to want to check in on elderly loved ones more often.

While well-intentioned, relatives constantly offering to help can in itself lead to an older person feeling like their independence is slipping away. There will also inevitably be times when the family is not around and it’s during these periods that additional infrastructure, such as personal alarms for the elderly, can be very reassuring.

How to preserve independence

To deal with these concerns, it’s vital older people have the right equipment and support networks available. This can start, for instance, with the addition of items such as railings, stair lifts or even simply moving kitchen items to more accessible cupboards.

But while making adaptations to the home in order to facilitate an easier life is a good start, it’s only one part of promoting independence. For example, it’s also important for older people to feel confident to get out and about into their gardens or the local community.

Staying at home can feel like a safer option, but it can actually increase social isolation, so encouraging loved ones to visit friends and relatives or go shopping where possible can be hugely helpful. If people are worried about what might happen if they leave their home, there are a range of tools and technologies such as pendant alarms which can be attached to the wrist or a keychain to offer peace of mind and connect them to support networks or emergency services.

When choosing a personal alarm for the elderly, it’s important to consider their individual needs. If your loved one can still get out and about on their own, be sure to select a device with GPS capability. That means you or the monitoring team will be able to obtain their location immediately should they press the emergency button.

Maintaining independence isn’t just about ensuring older people are physically capable of looking after themselves. Being able to make their own choices about their everyday activities, giving them as much input and control over their lives as possible, contributes hugely to better mental health and acuity as people age.

With the right solutions, such as personal alarms, monitoring and assistance technologies, not only will older people enjoy the benefits of maintaining independence for longer, both they and their families can get greater peace of mind they are safe in their own homes or when completing tasks like going to the local shops.

SECOM CareTech: A Growing Success by Neil Fitzwalter

SECOM’s Care Technology Manager Neil Fitzwalter shares his highlights on growing SECOM’s presence in the Care sector and the range of innovative products, services and solutions to give everyone peace of mind when it comes to protecting vulnerable and elderly people.

“As we see the growing success of our Care Technology offerings, I thought it would be a good time to share with you some of our highlights so far, through the medium of a blog; and for those of you that know me well, it’s not something I ever thought I would be saying!

“Our National Accounts and Regional Sales CareTech product champions have enjoyed some fantastic success recently with sales for both our wired and wireless nurse call and staff attack systems. Our growing presence in the market allows us to further develop our conversations with influencers and decision makers. From NHS estate managers to private care home owners and managers, we are sure to have a solution that will meet their needs.

“Some recent examples of these successes are:

  • A completed Courtney Thorne wireless nurse call system installation within a Midlands-based residential care home, replacing original outdated and faulty wired equipment.
  • An extensive installation underway of a guardian staff attack system across multiple buildings for a North London-based housing association, offering supported living services for people with complex mental health needs.             

“Care technology isn’t just for people! We recently installed a “vets crash call” system for a veterinary practice. An imaginative alternative application for a nurse call system demonstrating the versatility of our solutions and importantly is great inspiration for thinking outside the box when offering innovative solutions in order to meet customer requirements.

“Alongside this, we are currently installing a multi-discipline project for a new build 60-bedroom care home in Hampshire. Our initial conversations with the client starting with Nurse Call, in this case an InterCall Touch System; one of the most advanced wired nurse call systems on the market!         

“Of course, undertaking all of these projects would not be possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of our regional operations teams and I’d like to thank them personally for their ongoing support in our mission to become a major force in this sector.

“Our technology enabled care solutions Care Hub and Care Go also continue to gain some fantastic customer feedback, praising the diligence and professionalism of our Command and Control center team who have provided much needed reassurance and prompt action in life threatening emergency situations which is something I feel immensely proud of.

“In addition to our CareTech offering, we have recently added our Smart Wellness service to our already successful Smart Security range. I believe this gives us a real advantage, as one of the UK’s first adopters of this advanced and flexible solution. Aimed at the independent living markets and focusing on early intervention rather than just a reactive “push an emergency button” approach, it is fast becoming a hot topic of conversation within the technology enabled care sector. 

“In collaboration with our technical support team, we are currently working towards launching a new lone worker device which I am confident will add to the success story of SECOM CareTech and I look forward to updating you on this very soon!”

SECOM CareTech offers a wide range of products and services to keep your loved ones safe and feel connected. Our solutions help your loved ones stay living independently for longer.

Our CareTech solutions for businesses in the care industry are innovative and bespoke. We offer comprehensive security systems that protect staff, and customers, especially during emergencies.

SECOM’s Physical Security Journey by Calvin Avery

SECOM’s Head of Physical Security Calvin Avery reflects on his journey building our Physical Division and recounts about the remarkable achievements they have accomplished over the years in making the department what they are today.

The Beginning – a 5 year plan

“When I took over the Physical Division 5 years ago, it was clear that I needed to identify where we needed to improve to become a successful part of SECOM. I was given the green light by the board to do what was necessary to transform Physical (with little to no investment). This gave me an opportunity to change fundamentally by using our initiative. I saw the need to build an entirely new division using the existing team and the framework that was in place at the time.

“I decided to put a 5-year plan together that needed targets to be hit on a yearly basis to achieve our goals. My team consists of 2 Administrators, 3 Engineers and 2 Designers. Without them I would not have been able to achieve my 5-year plan and they need to be acknowledged. The knowledge and longevity of my team was very apparent, just under utilised.

“Physical was known for gates, barriers, bollards and roller shutters and a few bespoke fabricated jobs. Our office was based near Maidstone and not very appealing. Hardly anybody knew where we were, or that we even existed (including our own staff!) My first thought was to redesign the interior of our building. I had engineers and the fabricators at my fingertips so it made sense to do everything ourselves. We painted every room and the exterior facade in our own time. Sometimes we would work till late at night as long as pizza was mentioned, and some weekends were thrown in. We built a meeting room and a large demo room. For new furniture we begged and borrowed anything we could get our hands and bought via ebay.

“One of the hardest things on our journey was to keep Physical going whilst all this work was going on. We opened a revamped Physical Division within 8 months to a rousing success. Whilst we were doing all this work, I could see that my team where re-energised and pumped, and I wanted that to continue. We had a meeting where I outlined that we were going to build on what we offered to our customers. Instead of offering 5 products we now offer over 50, and growing! It’s all about offering a service through innovation and commitment from my team.

The Middle – a new office

“Due to the success of what we had achieved over the first 2 and a half years, we were rewarded with a new unit in Rochester! The board employed an interior building company to build and decorate offices and a mezzanine. This took longer than expected due to the Covid 19 pandemic and I had to project manage the work as well as simultaneously move Physical in the right direction. From start to finish it took around a year, but it has all been worth it. We now have a large new workshop, a demo room and separate floors Physical and National Accounts which is also home to Internal Sales.

“Part of my role is to bring in new Physical products for SECOM. One product came to my attention: an Xpanda. It’s a sliding retractable gate that acts as a deterrent and is manufactured in South Africa. Instinctively we knew that when Covid 19 hit, this product would become invaluable; and so it proved to be! A well-known pharmaceutical company became a regular target in the high street, so we managed to install and secure over 250 Xpanda jobs during the pandemic. I’m very proud of my team in the way we handled that unfortunate time with the rules and restrictions put in place. I dealt with South Africa on a regular basis to make sure we had enough containers shipped over to keep up with the demand.

“The service Physical provided during this time was second to none. Because of that success we are now installing Xpandas for a large retail outlet. In this period I also brought in fire stopping and fire doors which over the years has grown substantially. Fire stopping products are used for compartmentation. They are unique and they can save lives; particularly in the light of what happened at Grenfell Tower. If the building had been fire stopped it would have saved so many lives. We have recently fire stopped hundreds of hotels throughout the UK and Ireland.

“I have recently discovered another new product that I am very excited to share, and believe will do very well. That is our new SECOM Physical Security Plantation Shutters. They are an amazing product that can complement the look of your property whilst keeping you safe and secure. Our shutters come in 5 standard colours, however we can do custom colours. The beauty of our shutters is that they can be installed internally or externally for windows and doors. They are extremely strong and versatile, providing total privacy, and with a flick of a finger you can allow as much or as little light as you like. It doesn’t matter if your property is new, old or under construction, we can tailor the install to meet your needs. These luxurious aluminium shutters are very high quality. They can be used everywhere within your property. They are weatherproof for patios and entertaining areas. They can even be used for wardrobes and accessorising areas.

“Because our shutters are so strong and secure, we have been asked to make the top floors of some properties into a safe area. This allows you to have peace of mind by simply installing an internal sliding shutter at the top of the stairwell or any other potential area that suits to protect you and your family. SECOM Physical offers a quality assured product with a 10-year guarantee. My team will survey free of charge and advise you on the best way to utilise your new luxury security shutters.

Not the end – a bright future

“I have achieved my 5-year plan and Physical is a well-established division within SECOM now. I think my team have been my biggest success. I need to thank them for all their help over the last 5 years because I would not have been able to achieve what I set out to do without them. My team and I are committed. We believe that Physical still has a long way to go and we believe that we will get bigger and better over the coming years.”

If you are considering having Physical Security to help give your property that extra level of protection, whether it’s for your business or your home, contact us to get a free quote/survey today. Our demo room is open to all!

The Benefits of Video Doorbells: Protecting Your Home During the Festive Season

The Christmas period is a time of joy and celebration, but it’s also a time when home security should be a top priority. While it’s a common belief that burglaries peak during this time of year, it’s essential to take steps to protect your home and loved ones.

You should remain vigilant and take precautions to ensure your safety and protect your property during the holiday season. Stay aware and take appropriate steps to safeguard your home and belongings during this time and throughout the year. This includes measures such as:

  • locking your doors and windows.
  • using timers for your lights to make your home appear occupied when you’re away.
  • being cautious about sharing your travel plans on social media.

A lot of homeowners have been buying video doorbells as a low cost alternative compared to home security systems, especially during this time of year with an increase of packages being delivered. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of holiday home security and the benefits of video doorbells.

Holiday Home Security

  • Prevent break-ins: The holiday season often involves travel and family gatherings, which can leave your home vulnerable. Burglars may see this as an opportunity to target unattended properties.
  • Protect your gifts: The gifts you’ve carefully chosen for your loved ones should not become easy targets for thieves. A secure home ensures that your presents stay where they belong.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing that your home is protected can help you relax and enjoy the holidays without constantly worrying about its security.

The Role of Video Doorbells

Video doorbells, like those offered by us, have become a popular and effective tool for enhancing home security. Here are some key benefits of video doorbells:

  • Remote monitoring: With a video doorbell, you can access live video feeds from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. This allows you to check in on your property at any time, whether you’re at home or away.
  • Deterrence: The mere presence of a visible video doorbell can act as a deterrent to potential intruders. They’re less likely to approach a property when they know they’re being recorded.
  • Motion alerts: Video doorbells can send you instant alerts when they detect motion near your front door. This feature can help you respond quickly to unexpected visitors or suspicious activity.
  • Two-way communication: Many video doorbells include two-way audio, allowing you to communicate with visitors even when you’re not at home. This can be helpful for receiving packages or talking to friends and family.
  • Recorded footage: In the event of a security incident, you’ll have video evidence to aid in the identification and apprehension of intruders.

Tips for Using Video Doorbells Effectively

To make the most of your video doorbell and enhance your holiday home security, consider these tips:

  • Position it strategically: Install your video doorbell at a height and angle that captures a clear view of your doorstep and surrounding area.
  • Regularly check notifications: Pay attention to motion alerts and review any recorded footage promptly. This can help you stay on top of any unusual activity.
  • Maintain a visible presence: Make sure potential intruders can see the video doorbell. Displaying signs indicating that your property is monitored can be an extra layer of deterrence.
  • Secure the device: Ensure your video doorbell is securely attached and protected from tampering or theft.
  • Upgrade your Wi-Fi: A strong and secure Wi-Fi network is essential for reliable video streaming and real-time alerts.

This Christmas you should consider investing in your home’s security. Video doorbells are a valuable addition that offers convenience, peace of mind, and enhanced protection. By combining this technology with other security measures, you can celebrate the season with confidence, knowing that your home is well-protected.

Remember that holiday home security is not just about protecting your property; it’s about safeguarding the precious moments and cherished memories you create with your loved ones. Stay safe and enjoy a peaceful and joyous holiday season! Crime prevention and personal safety should be priorities year-round, not just for Christmas.

If you are considering the benefits of having a video doorbell to protect your home or looking to get smart home security, contact us to get a free quote today.

Fall Prevention Tips for Family and Caregivers

Falls are the biggest cause of hospitalisation among older people. In fact, 30 per cent of over-65s and a staggering 50 per cent of those aged 80 or above will experience a fall within the next 12 months.

Falls aren’t usually life-threatening, and often, an elderly loved one will be able to get themselves up again. Sometimes, however, a fall can lead to broken bones, long stays in hospital and a loss of confidence.

It’s not unusual for relatives to worry about their elderly relatives suffering a fall. It’s distressing to think about a family member calling for help and not being there to support them.

Fortunately, there are steps that caregivers can take to keep their loved ones safe and reduce their risk of falling, as well as being able to raise the alarm if they can’t get up. Installing automatic fall detection devices is just one measure that can help to offer you peace of mind.

1. When to talk about fall prevention

It’s difficult knowing when to talk about fall prevention. Bringing up the subject too soon after an incident can discourage older relatives from revisiting the topic later on and waiting too long can leave them vulnerable to falls.

The best way forward is to start a conversation about their health and ask them how they feel. You and your elderly relative can then discuss any issues and see if falling is a possible concern. The chances are that if it’s worrying you, then it may be on your loved one’s mind too.

Falls are usually caused by a combination of age-related problems. Knowing what to look out for can give you a good indication of your loved one’s risk and help you bring up the subject at the right time.

Here are some common signs that a family member is at risk:

  • Muscle weakness, balance or gait problems – As we get older, it’s not uncommon for us to lose strength and flexibility in our legs. This can affect our coordination and make it easier for us to fall over.
  • Poor eyesight – With ageing, less light penetrates the eye, making it harder for older people to spot obstacles and trip hazards.
  • Medication – Some medications can make the user feel sleepy or dizzy.
  • Chronic conditions – Nearly 95 per cent of older adults have at least one chronic illness, and almost 80 per cent have two or more. These conditions include diabetes, heart disease or arthritis and can reduce the ability to be active and make them more susceptible to falls.

2. How to talk about fall prevention

How to talk about fall prevention

It’s not uncommon for caregivers and younger family members to feel uncomfortable talking about fall prevention. Many worry that broaching the subject will upset their elderly loved one and cause offence. The truth is, talking openly and frankly about fall prevention is often the best approach and can help you avoid “elderspeak”, engage your loved one in the discussion and make it easier for both of you to express your concerns.

The conversation might be difficult, because it means confronting fears that your parent or elderly relative is getting older. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from the subject. Talking about fall prevention sooner rather than later can make all the difference to your loved one’s future health.

Here are some conversation starters to help you break the ice:

“This isn’t easy, but I’m concerned about your safety.”

“I want you to live at home for as long as possible. How can I help you do that?”

“You don’t seem to be going out as often. Is there something worrying you?”

3. What can elderly people do to avoid falls?

There are lots of things that families and caregivers can do to help their elderly relatives stay healthy and live safely. Below are some of the simplest steps that you can take.

  • Support their physical and mental health – Talk to your loved one about their health and consider speaking to their doctor. This will help you identify what sort of physical activities they should be doing to stay strong and if they should be using a mobility aid to get about. Ask your GP if your relative takes any drugs that increase their risk of falling over. You should also encourage your loved one to participate in their healthcare, as this will help them stay independent and understand the limitations of their own body.
  • Make use of technology – Encourage older family members to keep their mobile phones nearby. This will stop them from rushing around the house when you call. If your elderly relative is comfortable using a smartphone, show them how to use apps like WhatsApp and Deliveroo. These are great for helping older people stay in touch with friends and family, keep their cupboards stocked and maintain independent living. Even if your elderly loved one isn’t tech-savvy, then a personal alarm service like ours can help them in the event of an emergency. A pendant alarm from our Care Hub Plus package comes with automatic fall detection technology and will send an alert even if the wearer falls unconscious or is unable to press the fall alarm button. This personal alarm linked to a mobile phone will mean you’re made aware of an incident as soon as it occurs. If you’re not available to check on your relative, a member of the SECOM monitoring team will assess the situation and alert the emergency services should they be required to attend.
  • Make a post-fall care plan – When elderly people fall over, it’s not unusual for them to go into shock. You can help them prepare for accidents and stay calm by putting a plan in place. Important points to cover include cautioning against getting up straight away, keeping warm in the event of a serious fall and calling for help. Instruct them on how to activate the emergency button on their personal alarm too, so they remember that’s what it’s there for.

4. How to prevent falls at home

A lot of falls happen indoors, so fall-proofing your loved one’s home is key to reducing their chances of experiencing a fall. Taking a look around their home, or walking around with them, can help you spot any potential hazards and come up with a plan.

Here are three quick and easy ways to fall-proof an elderly relative’s  home:

  1. Foot mats are useful for drying your feet at the door and making sure you don’t walk any mud or dirt into the house. However, some rugs, particularly those at the top of the stairs, can pose a serious trip hazard. Think about how useful a mat or rug is when touring your loved one’s home. If there’s no reason to keep it there, remove it straight away.
  2. A trip to the bathroom is one of the leading causes of a fall at night. Installing a night light in the bedroom, as well as on the landing, can make it a lot safer for your mum or dad to use the toilet.
  3. Tidying away clutter is critical to making your loved one’s home fall-proof. Use cable ties to keep wires out of the way, and avoid any rubbish from building up. Removing glassware or glass furniture is also a good idea as it can be harder for older people to see.

5. What to do if you’re worried about a loved one falling

If you’re anxious about a family member falling over, or the possibility of a fall affecting their confidence, then talk to someone as soon as you can. There are a number of preventative measures that you can take to protect them from falling, and a wide range of services that you can use to make sure they’re safe in the event of a fall.

Talk to your doctor

If you’re worried, talk to your doctor. They can perform a risk assessment and determine your elderly relative’s likelihood of experiencing a fall. If they decide they’re at risk, they can help you create an action plan.

Personal alarms

Personal alarms come in many shapes and sizes, and are designed to help older people call for help if they suffer a fall or feel unwell. Our Care Go fall detection devices will give you the peace of mind that your loved one will not be left experiencing a ‘long lie’ after a fall, which can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health.

Our personal alarm service is monitored 24 hours a day, and in the event of an emergency friends and family are immediately alerted, as well as the emergency services should they be required.

If you’re looking for a personal alarm, there’s a good chance you may qualify to avoid paying this tax. When shopping online, be sure to look for prices that exclude VAT or a supplier that advertises this lower price. It could save you hundreds of pounds in the long run.

To receive VAT relief, you must either have:

  • A physical or mental condition that has a significant, long-term effect on your everyday life
  • A condition that is regularly treated by a medical professional, such as diabetes
  • A terminal illness

Save £5 off our fall alarm Care Hub Plus today while stocks last!

6 Things to Look For in a Personal Alarm

Shopping for a personal alarm can feel daunting with lots of devices on the market. As with everything we do, we want to make life easier for you. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of all the features you should be looking for in a pendant alarm.

During your online search for personal alarms for the elderly, you can eliminate any provider that doesn’t tick all these boxes. Rest assured that all the SECOM CareTech devices meet these criteria and we can answer any further questions you have about homecare and independent living services.

1. Futureproof

Personal alarm services work by keeping you connected. At SECOM CareTech, we use multi-network SIMs to send and receive signals from your device. A common alternative to multi-network SIMs is landlines, which work by sending electronic signals along underground cables.

Many telecare providers use landline technology to make their elderly personal alarms work, but this infrastructure is due to be turned off in 2025. Until then, there will be a period of switching over. To avoid the upheaval, be sure to select a pendant alarm provider that doesn’t rely on this soon-to-be-outdated technology.

Having a futureproof personal device will give you added peace of mind. When combined with the support offered by your telecare service, you should have the confidence that your best interests are catered to at all times.

2. In-house monitoring centres

It may come as a surprise, but not all personal alarm services have their own monitoring centres. Instead, many outsource their monitoring to third-party companies, which means the people who monitor you might not be employed by the same company supplying your device.

Choosing a provider that supplies both the personal alarm and monitoring service means you always know who is monitoring you or a loved one. Some of CareTech’s personal alarms with fall detection have a two-way communication function, meaning you can speak to a member of our monitoring team in an emergency.

Understanding who is at the other end of your pendant alarm device is really important for true peace of mind. After all, they will assess the situation if your emergency contact is unavailable to ensure you’re supported 24 hours a day. The monitoring service will hold relevant medical information to inform the paramedics should they need to attend your home.

3. Wearability and discretion

Elderly care alarms come in many shapes and sizes. Some have bright red buttons, while others are more discreet. When shopping around for a personal alarm, it’s important to think about how it looks. Many elderly and disabled people don’t want to wear a pendant alarm that draws attention to their age or disability.

By considering a personal alarm’s appearance and wearability, you are far more likely to pick one that you or a relative feels comfortable wearing. After all, a safe personal alarm needs to be on hand at all times in order to perform its function and assist in independent living.

Choose between a pendant alarm for the elderly or disabled that can be worn as a necklace, brooch or clipped to a belt. Careful consultation with a loved one about the best personal alarm option for them is paramount, as their buy-in is crucial to its success. Some devices can even pass as jewellery, which may be an important factor for your relative.

4. Waterproof

Bathrooms are a common place for older people to suffer a fall. It’s why a lot of personal alarm services advertise their products as waterproof or water-resistant. With all of the hard surfaces found in a bathroom, it’s an important place to have your elderly fall alarm to hand.

Water-resistant products are measured against standards set by the IP code. This gives consumers an indication of how water-resistant they are and the types of environments you can expect to safely wear them in.

To receive an IP certificate, products are tested in a lab by a third party. The two lead ratings are IP67 and IP68. These indicate a device can be submerged in one metre of fresh water for 30 minutes without being damaged.

In order to get the most out of your personal device, you’ll want it to be waterproof. That means you can wear it while bathing and continue to be protected by the automatic fall detectors or emergency button at a time when you’re most vulnerable.

5. Back-up safety features

Most of us hope we never have to use our personal alarm. But if the worst should happen, it’s important to know yours is working properly. Personal alarms come with lots of clever safety features, such as back-up batteries and low-signal alerts. Making sure your new device has at least one of these features will make it safer for you to use and easier to keep in good condition.

At SECOM CareTech, some of our devices have a battery life of two to five years, meaning you never have to charge your personal alarm. When the battery comes close to when it needs to be changed, we receive an automatic message to replace your personal device free of charge, so you don’t have to do anything to stay protected.

6. VAT exemption

VAT is a sales tax added to goods and services sold in the UK. It stands for value added tax and is usually charged at 20 per cent. Many products that are used by disabled people or those with long-term health conditions are exempt from VAT.

If you’re looking for a personal alarm, there’s a good chance you may qualify to avoid paying this tax. When shopping online, be sure to look for prices that exclude VAT or a supplier that advertises this lower price. It could save you hundreds of pounds in the long run.

To receive VAT relief, you must either have:

  • A physical or mental condition that has a significant, long-term effect on your everyday life
  • A condition that is regularly treated by a medical professional, such as diabetes
  • A terminal illness

Here are some of the conditions that may qualify you for VAT exemption:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke

Explore CareTech’s range of personal alarms to discover which option would be best for your elderly relative.