Telecare and telehealth
There's technology available that could help you live independently and stay in control of your health and wellbeing. It's often called telecare or telehealth.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth equipment is designed to help people who live at home manage their long-term health conditions. These devices allow you to monitor your health without having to keep visiting your GP.
When you get the equipment you will be shown how to take readings. They will automatically be sent to a health professional who will check your results and keep an eye on your health needs.
How could telehealth help me?
If you have high blood pressure, a monitor can help you measure your blood pressure at home and automatically send the results to your GP.
If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you can get a device that measures levels of oxygen in your blood to show how well you’re breathing. Your doctor or nurse can check these readings and give you help at an early stage.
If you’re diabetic, a glucose meter can keep a check on your blood sugar levels. You can also get a low blood sugar alarm that looks like a wristwatch. You wear it at night to warn you if your blood sugar drops when you’re asleep.
If you get recurring urinary infections, a simple telehealth device can test for this. You send the results electronically to your healthcare professional so you can get early treatment.
Ask your GP, health visitor, or community nurse about what's available in your area and whether you’re suitable for telehealth monitoring.
What is telecare?
Telecare detects when there's a problem and sends alerts to a call centre which then organises help for you.
For example, the alert might get sent if you left the gas on by accident, or a personal alarm would allow you to call for help if you had a fall.
How could telecare help me?
- A personal alarm, which you wear as a pendant or bracelet, lets you call for help if you have a fall.
- A fall detector can automatically sense if you’ve fallen. The alarm alerts someone, usually a member of staff at a response centre, without you needing to push a button.
- An intruder detector can sense movement in your home and alert a response centre.
Pagers can notify your family or carer if a telecare sensor is activated. You can also get bed sensors, which let family or carers know if you get out of bed and don't return within a set period of time at night. This is useful if you're worried about falling in the night.
How to get telecare products and services
You may be eligible for help from your local council. Contact your local adult social services department and ask for a free care needs assessment. Depending on your needs, you may have a telecare service provided. Ask whether there’s a trial telecare scheme in place so you can make sure it’s suited to your needs.
Speak to your GP or an occupational therapist. They may recommend a telecare system as part of a continuing health or care package, but there’s often a charge for telecare services.
Do some research before buying your own telecare service, product or device. Keep reading for more advice on this.
Contact your local council
Get in touch with your local council's adult social services department
What do I need to consider when buying telecare products?
Before spending money on a telecare product or service, you should consider some of the following things:
- Is telecare right for you?
- Have you contacted your local adult social services department to ask for a care needs assessment? You may be entitled to financial help.
- Have you checked your benefits? If you’re eligible for a benefit such as Pension Credit, your council may charge you less for a telecare service.
If you're buying a telecare product, you should:
- list the things you want your product or service to do, and check your list against the product's features
- check there’s a guarantee and a returns policy in case it doesn’t meet your needs
- read customer reviews to find out what other people think
- if you need a larger or more expensive product, consider leasing or hiring it, as your needs may change in the future
- check different designs and think about how things will look in your home
- shop around for the best price
- ask whether the installer can come back regularly to check everything is working correctly.
If you’re a carer, it's important that you make sure the person you’re caring for is comfortable and confident in using the product.
What benefits can you claim?
Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Age UK's Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.
What should I do next?
Contact the Disabled Living Foundation
The Living Made Easy section of the DLF website can help you find out more about telecare and telehealth suppliers in your area.
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