In the last year, a third of councils in England have faced cuts and have also lost funding from the government - which has resulted in councils having to cut spending on social care which provide individuals with important services such as personal alarms.
The central government grant which brought councils £18 Billion for social care was scrapped last year and it has left a major funding gap for councils to try and tackle. The lack of funding to social care will see services being lost all together as these areas, where the elderly are cared for, has already been crushed under growing demand. The impact of these cuts has led to warnings from the NHS as the burden has increased dramatically with more and more older people have needed hospital and emergency care because they do not have the support within their own home.
With social care suffering the most from government cuts, the elderly and vulnerable have been forced to seek out care privately. Since the late 1970’s there has been a remarkable shift to privatisation. In 1979, 64% of residential and nursing home beds were provided by local authorities or by the NHS - By 2012 it was 6%.
In the case of home care, 95% was directly provided by local authorities as late as 1993; by 2012 this figure was just 11%. This has been accompanied by a growing role for large care companies expanding at the expense of small, family run businesses – five large chains now account for 20% of care supply in England and this figure is expected to rise very quickly now that councils have lost this major grant.
The UK’s population's life expectancy has grown and will continue to grow with advances in medical technology and treatments. Available care will be become more and more vital as this increase grows and at the moment the UK is on verge of collapse in terms of accessible care.
A study tracking trends in life expectancy found that the care increase is the result of growth in the population of over 65's that more than wipes out any reductions from expected drops in the incidence of dementia and cardiovascular disease. The study warns that if the” shortage of caregivers and the precarious state” of care are not addressed urgently, many more people on low incomes will be unable to live independently.
This will force elderly and frail residents to turn to family members, who may not be able to accommodate or afford to support them, and it may force people into sheltered accommodation or care homes- where there is a nationwide shortage of affordable homes to go to.
Care home “Top-Up Fees”
Over-complicated and incorrect information from councils has been blamed for people being unable to make the best financial decisions when choosing care options. Often care home “top-up fees” such as paying for bigger rooms, have been incorrectly charged. Such extra expenses can be shocking anyway when families are already paying out large fees for their relatives to stay in care homes.
It’s been revealed by the Local Government Ombudsman that families are paying too much for care, due to privatisation of some care services and local authorities having to charge for their services. With councils having to scrap some social care services or begin charging for them, people were not offered an affordable option and fees being incorrectly charged in some cases. The Local Government Ombudsman stated that within a year there was nearly a 20% increase in complaints about social care of which nearly 60% was upheld.
Personal Alarm - A Quick Fix
More and more people are wanting to stay in their own home longer and with cuts to domicile care making it hard for people and their loved ones to have the peace of mind that they can be safe without having to move.
A personal alarm is the perfect solution for elderly or disabled people living on their own as they allow those who use the alarm to call for assistance if they have an accident or a fall in their home.
They are ideal for helping the elderly and vulnerable to feel safe as they remain independent for longer. They work by alerting a 24-hour monitoring centre, who have emergency contact details of friends, family or neighbours available so they can contact them on the user of the alarms behalf to go and help. The monitoring centre can also contact the emergency services if they are required.
Personal alarms are specifically designed to be used in and around a person’s home. The user of the alarm can have the pendant button, which works in tandem with the base unit, on their person at all times and the pendants are waterproof meaning they can be used in the bath or shower.
It is a simple call button that requires a small push and a call is automatically sent out when the user of the alarm needs help. At night time the pendant can be easily worn comfortably on the user’s wrist or sit next their bed if needed.
Added Benefits of a Personal Alarm
- Personal alarms can connect multiple sensors to the alarm, such as door sensors, smoke alarms or a bed sensor. This gives added peace of mind knowing that when activated, the call will automatically be connected to the Response Team to organise help.
- If you have a carer, the alarm can be programmed to contact them directly when activated.
- Personal alarms have a loud speaker function that can act as a telephone speaker and the user can answer a phone call by pressing their pendant button, without having to get up and search for the telephone.
- There is a fall detector variant of a pendant button where the fall detector automatically detects a dropping motion and a stillness afterwards, a fall, and instead of a button needing to be pushed the fall detector will automatically send the call out to the Response Team. This type of personal alarm is great for people prone to falls and becoming unconscious.
Choosing an Inexpensive Personal Alarm
- Think about what type of equipment you require.
- Take the time to ask all relevant questions and understand the personal alarm.
- You might need a keysafe which works great with a personal alarm just in case any called to your home can’t gain access. A police-approved keysafe is always highly recommended.
- Always make sure to check the company you consider is a member of the TSA (Telecare Services Association).
Lifeline Personal Alarms
Our personal alarms for the elderly are inexpensive and include no hidden extra charges. After setting up fees you can choose a monthly or yearly plan that is affordable for the 24/7 support we give all year round.
Lifeline personal alarms come in two parts; A base unit that you plug directly into your phone line and a MyAmie pendant button that can be worn around the wrist or the neck. They are ideal for the elderly, disabled, chronically ill- with diseases such as cancer, diabetes and dementia, or people who just need a little bit of reassurance to remain independent at home.
Lifeline personal alarms have been proven to be effective and they are simple to use. If the user of the alarm needs help, they activate the pendant button they are wearing. An alarm call is then automatically sent out through the base unit and received almost immediately by our 24-hour Response Team. The Response Team then try to communicate with the alarm user by speaking to them over the base unit's loudspeaker function and they then arrange help in the form of family, friends, neighbours or the emergency services to go out to the user of the alarm. The user of the alarm then has the confidence and peace of mind that every time they push the pendant button for help; someone will come.
Lifeline personal alarms for elderly people, provide peace of mind to you and your relatives; without you needing to move into an, often un-affordable, care home or buy into expensive care services. We believe that the elderly and disabled should be able to stay in their homes as long as possible and that their home care should be affordable to their loved ones.
If you are interested in personal alarms for elderly people you can find more information, videos and customer testimonials on the Lifeline24 website. You can also Tweet us your thoughts on care home prices @Lifeline24 or write to us in the comments below.
The MyAmie Pendant for The Personal Alarm
Lifeline24’s service would not be what it is without the MyAmie pendant button. This small and discreet pendant is worn on a wrist strap, neck cord or on a belt clip. It functions on the European Social Alarm Frequency (869MHz) which means that it does not interfere with medical equipment such as a pace maker.
The MyAmie pendant button has fantastic features:
- Range - The pendant button has a huge range of up to 100m which allows the user of the alarm to go about their day to day activities as normal and they can even be out in the garden where the pendant will still work.
- Waterproof - The pendant can be used in the bath or shower- the places where falls are most likely to occur, which means the user of the personal alarm can wear the pendant button at all times.
- Battery Life - You don’t need to replace batteries or worry about the batteries going flat. The life on the MyAmie pendant is seven years and information from the pendant is automatically sent to the Response Team regularly so they will automatically know when to send you a brand-new replacement.
A Final Thought on Personal Alarms
Looking after ourselves as we get older is extremely important and so is remaining independent in our homes for as long as possible. Personal alarms are the perfect solution; not only do they allow elderly and disabled people to feel comfortable and safe but they also bring peace of mind to loved ones knowing those that they care about can access a lifeline when in need of help.
The modern world is full of costs and when you are retired, ill or disabled the topic of affordability is a major concern. Government focus on care seems to be dwindling and with councils losing significant funding it is leaving so many people in a situation unable to afford or access the right care. This predicament has forced many elderly or disabled people to leave their homes to go live with family members, to go into sheltered housing or care homes because it is too dangerous for them to be left alone.
The population of the UK is getting older and it is paramount that we as a nation and as a society are in a situation where care is accessible and affordable for those who a vulnerable and life-reliant on care.
In 1975, 14% of the population were 65-years-old or older. Today, in 2017, that figure is 18% and by 2045 that figure will be well over 25% of the population of the UK who will be over the age of 65. A study in The Lancet has predicted that the number of over 65 year olds requiring some form of care due to age-related disability could reach 2.8 million by 2025 in England and Wales – this figure is 25 per cent more than in 2015.
Thankfully, there are services, such as Lifeline24 offering inexpensive personal alarms, so that those who need the peace of mind to stay independent in their own home can have a lifeline to the outside world when they need help.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated to include up-to-date facts regarding current issues.