Is it time for the next generation of telecare?

Adrian Scaife
Business Development Manager, Alcuris LTD

Our analysis is that the Care technology market will be in considerable flux over the next five years due to:

  • Digital switchover
  • Market consolidation of monitoring centres
  • Which of the many digital telecare suppliers will be able to achieve scale is as yet unclear.
  • How quickly the industry will achieve open interoperability with health and social care data.
  • The potential from gaining significant insight from the available data.
  • The consumer technology / smart home market is rapidly crossing over into the care technology sector.

This one of the conclusions of the recent Care Technology Landscape Review report (opens new window) commissioned by Essex County Council and produced by SOCITM Advisory. The report doesn’t pull any punches and goes on to note about the current market environment.

  • Uptake of telecare has been static over the last 10 years at 1.7m users nationally. Community alarms still predominate based on an analogue, reactive service.
  • Many telecare services have evolved from housing community alarm services and may have seen little or no service transformation and development over the past 10/15 years.
  • The sector has tended to focus on the technology rather than desired outcomes for the end user.
  • There has not been enough attention paid to design and delight in the way the solutions look and function.
  • Equipment manufacturers, operating in a business-to-business context, have been slow to change and adapt to emerging requirements.
  • Commissioners must avoid investing further in legacy telecare.
  • A key hurdle is often the wider system, rather than the technology itself – e.g. How to effectively signpost telecare users, if the monitoring centre does not have access to all their health and care records? How to make best use of all the data which can be – or indeed is – collected, to inform better designed or more personalised housing and care services?
  • The pressures on health and social care systems are well known and there is an urgent need to find new ways of managing and reducing demand for health and social care services

What of the future?

In the latest ADASS Budget Survey (opens new window) 82% of Directors view the development of asset-based/self-help approaches as the most important approach to delivering savings, followed by prevention/early intervention (74%).

The report notes consumer selection and co-pay factors are shaping the market, with consumer access to emergent technology creating new expectations for services and a willingness to pay.

Is it time for the next generation of telecare?

It also proposes some helpful goals for Commissioners

  • Care technology recognised as an enabler for promoting independence and accessed early / at the start of a person’s care journey, giving reassurance to families and carers.
  • Care technology helping to defer the need for or avoid more intensive forms of care and embedded into a strengths-based assessment process.
  • Using lifestyle monitoring to support informed decision making – ‘just enough support’ rather than ‘just in case support
  • Offering care technology as an alternative to, or to complement, other forms of care including reablement, medication checks, and well-being calls.

The conclusion is that demand for the next generation of telecare is here now. Essex County Council, for example, want to start their new service in 2020. A new generation of telecare that delivers proactive, preventative, consumer friendly services that build on strengths (of individuals and communities) and that utilises interoperable data to provide insight, acting as an enabler for wider transformation across health and social care.

As a final thought: when you upgrade your legacy systems are you going to choose a digital version of today or fully embrace a digital environment and provide solutions that both citizens and Commissioners are demanding?


Posted on by Dr Leonard Anderson

The next generation of technology enabled assistive care will be built into properties, not added ad hoc. An issue will always be the physics of wireless communications - the relationship between frequency, power and penetration is inviolable. Within properties this points to the need for wired communications. What is the most economical?

Finally, what is the reliability of your broadband supplier?

Posted on by Charles Scaife

Hi Leonard, Thank you for your response.
I agree ideally solutions should be part of the fabric of all lifetime homes, however, in reality people live in homes of all sorts of ages and styles. In the UK we have quite an old housing stock.

The memohub solution from Alcuris will have a diverse communication route to mitigate risks such as broadband failure. It will use both WiFi and cellular routes to be able to communicate with the outside world. Ethernet connectivity usually means the hub has to be situated near the router which is far from ideal from the user's perspective, hence WiFi to improve the user experience.

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