Wakefield Council has successfully delivered a large-scale telecare programme giving additional support to people with long-term conditions and their carers and helping them to remain living independently at home. Launched in 2007, the service provides telecare packages to a range of service users, including those with learning and physical disabilities, young carers and the voluntary sector.
An evaluation of cost savings from the programme, which involved over 2,600 referrals for telecare, showed substantial average savings of over £12,600 per person, per year for older people and those with learning difficulties, calculated by the prevention of service users entering residential care. It also facilitated 12,200 hours of deferred residential admissions and supported 26% of hospital discharge referrals, helping the timely discharge of patients back home.
With several areas of deprivation impacting on the delivery of health and social care services, Wakefield conducted the three-year telecare project to demonstrate the benefits of mainstream deployment of telecare solutions. These include preventing unnecessary hospital admissions or readmissions, and avoiding placement in full-time nursing care, by providing unobtrusive support for people in their homes.
In addition to supporting people with long-term care needs, the telecare service has been instrumental in ensuring families with young carers have the emotional and practical support they need to stay together as a unit, avoiding additional care costs and relieving some of the stresses associated with being a young carer.
Sam Pratheepan, Director of Adult Social Services at Wakefield Council said:
The service has dramatically improved the quality of life for service users, and has also created real financial savings by avoiding unnecessary admissions to hospital or full-time residential care.
Furthermore, we realise that the benefits of telecare go beyond supporting those with long-term needs and also delivers vital support to carers too. Our service helps to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety on young carers, giving them a feeling of being safe and secure with the added reassurance that if they ever need help, 24-hour responders are always on hand to attend around the clock. With the telecare service, many young carers have the confidence to continue with their education and socialise with friends, with peace of mind that their loved ones are safe at home.
To help embed telecare into its care services, Wakefield introduced a fully equipped ‘Smart House’ as a training aid for staff, service users and carers. The property comprises of live telecare sensors and detectors, which enable staff to re-enact live demonstrations of the system to help with learning and orientation. All staff that are involved in working with the telecare service are trained in the installation, programming and set-up of all telecare equipment.
The council also offers support to people with learning disabilities, and has recently developed new supported living accommodation for those residents with both independent and more complex needs. Each individual flat is equipped with a Tunstall Lifeline unit, personal alarm pedant and other pieces of equipment as appropriate to needs, and is monitored on site and remotely by Support Workers who can communicate with residents through a two-way speech system on the Lifeline unit.
For one young man, telecare has enabled him to move out of his uncomfortable living conditions and into a supported-living flat. As he suffers with a number of physical conditions including epilepsy and cystic fibrosis, he was provided with a range of telecare solutions including a bed sensor with automatic light sensor and epilepsy sensor. With the support of telecare, he now has the quality of care that is required his wellbeing has dramatically improved and he has gained greater independence, allowing him to socialise with other residents.
The council also extends the provision of telecare to encompass respite for carers and those with long-term needs, offering short-term telecare support at home with 24-hour responders to enable carers to gain greater independence, whilst providing a more cost effective solution to traditional respite methods.