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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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!”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Motor neuron disease
Explore CareTech’s range of personal alarms to discover which option would be best for your elderly relative.
What is a personal alarm you ask? Personal alarms are becoming a common method for enjoying greater peace of mind associated with independent living.
Now that more people are reaching retirement age, the care sector is under greater pressure to provide elderly care services. This means fewer people – both old and young – are getting the planned treatments they need, and healthcare professionals are having to look for new ways to streamline services.
Telecare services offer remote care for elderly and less physically able people. They minimise pressure on core services and make it easier for older people to live in their own homes. Personal alarms are one of the most popular types of telecare systems, and during the pandemic they played a key role in keeping vulnerable people safe.
If you’re interested in a personal alarm for an elderly relative, keep reading. This article explains everything you need to know about pendant alarms, including how they work and the different types on offer, as well as the monitoring service that accompanies the wearable device.
What is a personal alarm, and how do they work?
Personal alarms are known by lots of different names – from pendant alarms to elderly care systems and fall detection devices. They offer a fast and effective way for people who live alone to call for help and can significantly reduce the time it takes for someone to receive emergency care. The NHS recognises personal alarms and monitoring systems as a way to maintain safe independent living.
Personal alarms usually feature two separate devices: a base unit and pendant alarm. The base unit features a small multi-network SIM that sends and receives data from your telecare provider, and the pendant contains a radio transmitter that lets the base unit know when the panic button has been activated. Together, the two devices allow the wearer to call for help from anywhere in their home or garden.
People use personal alarms for lots of different reasons. Some use them because they are at risk of a fall or medical emergency, while others simply enjoy the security that comes with knowing help is nearby. Whatever your telecare needs, there’s something for everyone at SECOM CareTech. Our top-of-the-range devices are monitored by a fully accredited team of trained security professionals so you can rest assured your loved one’s homecare independent living needs are always met.
Pendant alarms are designed to be worn around your neck and are a good option for those who might misplace their alarm. They are often mistaken for pieces of jewellery, particularly if they are as highly stylised as ours, and can be worn under your clothes for added discretion. CareTech by SECOM’s pendant alarms for the elderly are waterproof, so there’s no need to take them off when bathing.
Our Care Hub package includes the Pearl, a small pendant alarm full of great features. The two-way radio transmitter that sits at the heart of the elderly personal alarm communicates directly with your base unit, keeping you in constant contact with a member of our monitoring team.
The pendant can be worn in both hot and cold water, perfect for keeping you safe while you bathe, and its 300-metre signal range is more than enough for most domestic settings.
Care Hub is a personal alarm linked to a relative’s mobile phone. If a user presses the SOS button, the system sends a message to the SECOM Care app. Loved ones can then use the app to let us know if they are responding or need us to step in. If your emergency contacts do not answer or are unavailable, a member of our monitoring team will respond immediately.
They will know who you are, where you are calling from and any medical details you have shared with us. They will assess the situation and coordinate with the emergency services to make sure you receive the help you need. This is why a pendant alarm offers great peace of mind.
Fall detection devices use sensors and algorithms to monitor changes in direction and speed to figure out if you’ve suffered a fall. If your device is activated, the pendant sends an SOS signal to your monitoring centre. Your telecare provider can then work with your contacts and the emergency services to make sure you are okay.
Why use a fall detector?
Fall detectors are designed to limit ‘long lies’ and make sure you receive medical attention as quickly as possible in the event of a fall. Most users wear them because they suffer from one of the following conditions:
Our Care Hub Plus package is a dual personal alarm system. It includes the Care Hub, a base unit that connects directly to our monitoring centre, and the Pearl Advanced, a pendant alarm with fall detection technology.
These two fall detection devices work together to call for help in the event of a fall, and can be used by the wearer to manually raise an alarm, either by pressing the SOS button on the pendant or sending an alert from the base unit.
If the Pearl Advanced detects a fall, it sends a distress signal to the base unit and starts to beep. This gives the user ten seconds to deactivate the alarm using the pendant’s ‘shake to cancel’ feature. If the alarm isn’t cancelled, the base hub sends an SOS signal to our monitoring centre and your emergency contacts.
Traditional elderly care alarms have been around since the early 1970s. There have been several advances since then, including updates in fall detection and multi-network communication. But one of the biggest changes is the introduction of GPS personal alarms for the elderly.
GPS alarms can be used anywhere and support two-way communication. They allow your telecare provider to establish your exact location so no matter where you are – whether in the garden or walking to the shops – you are covered every step of the way. Knowing you’re able to speak to the monitoring team during an emergency also promotes independent living.
The Care Go pendant is a personal alarm that can be used at home, in the garden or out and about. It features built-in location tracking and comes with its own wireless charging station.
Never be without the protection of a safe personal alarm, as the Care Go is water resistant and can be worn as a pendant or attached to your keys. The pendant lasts for up to a month on a single charge, and the unique light ring encasement glows whenever the battery is low.
To call for help, wearers need only press and hold the panic button on the personal alarm device. We will then speak to you via the device’s built-in speakerphone to assess the situation and make the appropriate arrangements regarding your care.
Take a look at the full selection of devices from SECOM Caretech and discover what is the best personal alarm for your elderly relative.
Knowing which personal alarm is right for your elderly relative can be tricky. Millions of families struggle with the dilemma every year, and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Before you start looking for a personal alarm it’s good to know and consider the things below.
What is a personal alarm?
Personal alarms are a type of personal safety device. They are designed to keep you safe and make you feel more confident living on your own.
Personal alarm systems typically feature a pendant alarm and base unit. If at any time the wearer feels unwell or suffers a fall, they can press the panic button on their device to alert the monitoring centre.
At SECOM CareTech we have our own monitoring centre. So when a user activates their personal alarm, an SOS signal is sent to our 24-hour response team and the user’s emergency contacts via the SECOM Care app. Friends and family can then use the app to let us know if they are responding or need us to step in.
Why do older people use personal alarms?
There are various reasons why older adults use personal alarms for the elderly. Here are some of the most common:
Lots of things can knock your confidence as you get older. Among the top causes are changes in health and mobility. Using a personal alarm can give someone in later life the security they need to stay active, maintain their physical health and become more confident.
Conditions like diabetes and arthritis become more common with age. These health issues make people more susceptible to falling over and increase their chances of feeling unwell and needing the emergency services.
Personal alarms allow elderly people to send for help at the press of a button. Our monitoring team is on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can share your medical details with the emergency services so they know what to expect before they arrive.
A GPS pendant alarm allows the user to keep track of where they are. If a wearer gets lost, they can press the panic button on their personal device and ask the call handler to use the pendant’s GPS functionality to find out where they are.
What features should you look for in a personal alarm?
Personal alarms come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Some are small and subtle, while others are more conspicuous. When shopping for a safe personal alarm, it’s important to think about how it looks. Many elderly and disabled people don’t want to wear a personal alarm that draws attention to their age or disability.
Personal alarms are designed to fit around your life. They are small enough to wear 24 hours a day and can be worn on a necklace, wristband, brooch or keychain. Before buying an elderly personal alarm, ask your relative how they would like to wear their new device. This will make it much easier for them to integrate it into their everyday life.
Inside every personal alarm is a battery. These power the device and make sure it’s always ready to raise an alarm.The batteries inside most pendant alarms are very reliable and have a lifespan of about five years. This ensures you never have to worry about your device losing function unexpectedly. High-quality alarms (such as the ones we supply) send low-battery warnings to our monitoring centre so we can replace them in a timely manner free of charge.
Our Care Hub and Care Hub Plus packages use two separate devices to keep you safe: a base unit and a pendant alarm. The base unit contains a SIM card for contacting our monitoring centre, and the pendant alarm uses a small radio transmitter to send an SOS signal to the base unit. Together, the two devices let you raise an alarm from anywhere in your home.
If you’re interested in a similar system, keep in mind the signal range of the two devices. Most can cover the whole house, keeping you safe in every room. But if you or a loved one is a keen gardener, you’ll need to invest in a safe personal alarm with sufficient range to protect you indoors and out.
GPS (Global Positioning System)
GPS alarms, such as the Care Go, are designed for more active seniors who want to continue their independent living with confidence. These devices can be used to call for help if the user feels unwell while they are out of the house. GPS trackers use roaming SIM cards to connect to the strongest local network and are ideal for families where wandering is an issue. If a user gets lost, they can press the button on their elderly personal alarm and reach the monitoring centre in seconds. The call handler will use the device’s GPS functionality to establish their location and send for help.
Bathrooms are a high-risk area for elderly people to experience falls. As such, being able to use your personal alarm while you bathe is really important. Before subscribing to a monitoring service, check with your provider to find out what level of water resistance your pendant alarm has. Although most personal alarms come with a degree of waterproofing, providers don’t always make it clear how safe they are to use in the bath or shower.
What should you look for in a monitoring service?
Picking the right monitoring service is just as important as selecting the right personal alarm. When you come across a provider you like, one of the first things you should do is evaluate how much information they offer about their products and services. The more diligent providers will want to help you find a personal alarm that’s right for you or your loved one, and may even ask to visit their home so they can assess the property.
Connectivity and futureproofing
Traditional telecare services operate using landlines. In recent years, personal alarm providers have started moving away from this type of connection in favour of SIM cards as the telecoms industry is replacing analogue telephone lines with VoIP, a newer digital technology.
The migration to digital is going to take several years, with the switchover lasting until 2025. Joining a personal alarm service that doesn’t rely on landlines means the migration to VoIP won’t affect your service or your personal alarm.
CareTech by SECOM offers futureproof personal alarms linked to mobile phones via its app. The digital switchover won’t affect the service, so you can enjoy ultimate peace of mind once you’ve chosen the best personal alarm to suit your elderly relative.
In-house monitoring centre
A personal alarm is no good without a 24-hour monitoring service. Before subscribing to a telecare provider, make sure they are accredited by the TSA, the industry body for Technology Enabled Care (TEC), and have a customer care line that users can call to resolve non-emergency and troubleshooting issues. Fortunately SECOM CareTech is TSA approved and has an award-winning monitoring centre and customer care team on hand.
In addition to verifying your provider’s credentials, ask if their monitoring centre is in-house or operated by a third-party company. Many personal alarm services outsource their monitoring, which means the people who monitor you could be employed by an external provider. By opting for a company that supplies both the personal alarm and monitoring, you know where your personal device has come from and who is monitoring it.
The cost of a personal alarm service is usually no more than £450 per year. Reliable personal alarm providers will explain their pricing clearly, breaking down each payment. Most personal alarm services ask for a one-off payment upfront. This covers the delivery and registration of your device.
Once your device is set up, you will be given the options to pay for your 24-hour monitoring. You can pay for this in one go (usually the full contract period), annually or in smaller monthly instalments. Whichever is easiest for you and the individual who’s having their homecare independent living needs met.
VAT is a sales tax added to goods and services sold in the UK. It is taxed at 20 per cent. Products and services that are sold to people with disabilities or those with long-term health conditions are sometimes exempt.
When shopping online, be sure to look for elderly personal alarms that exclude VAT if you or your relative qualifies . A quality service provider will advertise these lower prices.
Have a physical or mental condition that significantly affects your everyday life
Be diagnosed with a condition that is regularly treated by a medical professional
Be experiencing a terminal illness
Which personal alarm is right for your elderly loved one?
Prior to beginning your search for a personal alarm, talk to your loved one about how wearing a personal device will make them feel. Personal alarms are proven to improve elderly people’s safety, but only those who wish to use them. If your relative says they will not wear their alarm, it’s important you listen. People who don’t wear their pendant alarm are in danger of friends and family wrongly assuming they are protected.
Once you are sure a personal alarm is what your loved one wants, talk to them about their health, mobility and budget. These things will help you decide which alarm they should get and the additional features they will need.
Take a look at our personal alarm table. It breaks down our range of personal alarms for the elderly into five categories: mobility, wearability, discretion, fall detection and GPS tracking. You can use it to work out which personal alarm is right for your elderly loved one.
When it comes to VAT exemption, many people shy away from finding out if they qualify because they worry it’ll be too complicated. Fortunately for you, we know a thing or two about it (most of our customers are entitled to VAT exemption) and we can help you work out if you’re eligible or not.
Below is our VAT exemption guide. It will explain everything you need to know. You can also give us a call. We’re always happy to speak to customers about their needs and make sure they’re paying the lowest price.
What is VAT exemption?
When products are sold in the UK, a sales tax known as VAT (Value Added Tax) is added to the sales price. Most products are taxed a 20% VAT. However, some goods and services are taxed at a lower rate or exempt from VAT altogether.
If you have a long-term medical condition, a chronic illness or are registered disabled, or the person you’re buying for is, then you may qualify.
How do I know if I qualify for VAT exemption?
To receive VAT relief, you must either:
have a physical or mental impairment that has substantial, long-term effects on your everyday life,
a condition that is regularly treated by a medical professional, such as diabetes,
or a terminal illness.
The World Health Organisation regards any illness that lasts for more than three months as chronic or long-term. Below are just some of the conditions that may qualify you for VAT exemption.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Deep vein thrombosis
Motor neuron disease
Paget’s disease of the bone
How do I apply for VAT relief?
You’ll be pleased to know that you can apply for VAT relief at the point of order. Simply let us know over the phone that you’re entitled to VAT exemption and the nature of your condition. We’ll then send you a short form to complete with your registration. It’s that simple.
If you’re still unsure about your eligibility, why not give us a call?
0208 559 5451
Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 8:30am-5.00pm
Personal alarms have been around since the early 1970s. They’ve saved thousands of lives since then as people have seen the benefits of personal alarms, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve really started to make a name for themselves, giving more people peace of mind while enjoying independent living.
It’s a mystery as to why these powerful little devices have been overlooked for so long when they have the potential to transform an elderly person’s life. Now’s the time to put pendant alarms in the spotlight! Read on to find out the benefits of personal alarms and reasons for opting for a personal alarm.
1. Get help fast
The main advantage of owning a personal alarm is being able to call for help quickly. Unlike a phone, they can be worn throughout the day and raise an alarm automatically if you fall. CareTech by SECOM’s personal alarms are even waterproof, so you don’t have to take them off when you bathe.
If your elderly loved one suffers from a long-term health condition, a personal alarm could make all the difference in an emergency. Personal alarms are proven to reduce the time it takes for older people to receive medical attention and are invaluable in the event of a stroke or heart attack.
Falls are common in the elderly, so it’s important to be aware they could happen. Instead of limiting your activities, this knowledge should help you put measures in place to protect yourself should you fall in your own home or garden and a fall alarm for the elderly should be an intrinsic part of your plan.
A fall alarm has sensors that are automatically triggered if your gait changes or your movements are unusual. That means you can get help even if you’re not able to push the emergency button on your pendant alarm. If you’re not in any difficulty, you can simply shake the fall detection device to deactivate the alert.
2. Stay independent
Safe personal alarms help elderly people maintain their independence. They are a great alternative to live-in care, and many older people prefer them to moving into a care home.
Sometimes elderly relatives worry that using a pendant alarm will make them less independent. But the fact is, the exact opposite is true. Personal alarms are designed to make you feel more confident living on your own and reduce your reliance on others.
In comparison to care services like home help and residential care, personal alarms are very reasonable. The cost of hiring a personal alarm with 24-hour monitoring is usually no more than £400 per year, and you can reduce the cost of renting an alarm by paying annually.
Many of the people who might be considering an elderly personal alarm could qualify for a VAT exemption. This could be because they have a long-term condition that means they don’t have to pay the 20 per cent tax, making a personal alarm and monitoring even more cost effective.
4. Peace of mind for the whole family
We all know what it’s like to worry about a family member. Young or old, anyone can be in an accident, and it’s natural to worry about those we love when we can’t be there to keep them safe.
When it comes to elderly relatives, the main concerns are falls and medical emergencies. By joining a personal alarm service, you can give your elderly relative a fast and effective way of reaching you and alleviate those worries.
A fall alarm linked to a mobile phone means you’ll be updated to any alerts as soon as they happen. Using the SECOM Care app is easy and if you and the other emergency contacts are not available, our monitoring team will step in and assess the situation, taking the necessary steps to ensure your loved one is safe and well.
5. Improve your chances of making a full recovery
When we feel unwell, the faster we receive help, the better. Personal alarms reduce the time it takes to receive medical assistance, significantly improving our chances of making a full recovery.
Every minute counts in the case of life-threatening conditions. Having a 24-hour personal alarm system means the emergency services are alerted right away if you feel unwell and know your medical details before they arrive.
Wearing an elderly fall alarm will also give you the reassurance that help is on its way. Experiencing a ‘long lie’ can be distressing and detrimental to emotional health, as well as physical. A number of the CareTech by SECOM personal alarms have two-way communication, so you can speak to a member of the monitoring team if you’re in distress.
6. Support the NHS
The NHS is a cherished national service in the UK. It played a key role in fighting the pandemic and is under constant pressure to look after those who pass through its doors.
One of the biggest problems for the NHS is not having enough beds. Most bed shortages occur when patients can’t be discharged because they don’t have the necessary support in place to be sent home. Giving someone a personal alarm reduces pressure on the NHS by accelerating the discharge process and minimising hospital readmission.
It also gives the patient the confidence to return to their own home sooner. With a fall alarm linked to a mobile phone, they’ll have the support they need at their fingertips should there be a problem.
If the worst should happen and an elderly loved one falls over, knowing what to do can help you manage the situation and take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again. Remember, you’re not alone in helping to manage your relative’s risk of falling, which is an inevitable part of ageing.
There are organisations that can offer practical support and infrastructure to put in place to alert you in case your loved one falls in their own home. A fall alarm for the elderly can give both you and your relative the peace of mind needed to maintain independent living despite the possibility of a fall being a reality.
Personal alarms from SECOM CareTech
These are only six of the many benefits of personal alarms. As you can see, they make a huge difference to millions of lives every day. If you are interested in learning more about our personal alarms, take a look at our alarm packages in this link below. Each one is designed to solve a specific issue for someone living on their own.