The UK has an ageing population, which means that the amount of pressure on hospitals and the care sector in general is increasing.
Personal alarm systems can help. Having an alarm means that people can continue living in the comfort of their own home – rather than moving into a care home or staying in a hospital bed that is in demand.
The aim of this article is to show what the personal alarm is all about. We will explain why this service is needed, before explaining the different parts that come together to create peace of mind for everybody involved.
Help when you need it most
A personal alarm is an ideal solution for people who live alone. For those in this situation, there is always a worry about what will happen should they have some sort of accident in the home. Even if they live with others, it can be difficult to get the help needed in an emergency.
Statistics show that in the UK, falls are the most common cause of injury related deaths in people over the age of 75. A national audit released in 2016 claimed that falls among older people was now the most common cause of major trauma seen in NHS hospitals.
A pendant alarm gives older people a lifeline for situations such as this. If an incident takes place, such as a fall, he or she can press one button and help will be with them before they know it. Without a personal alarm there is a chance that they could be lying on the floor for hours, or even days, before somebody comes to visit.
Even if it is never used, a personal alarm will give a psychological boost to the wearer. They will feel more confident and enjoy living in the comfort of their home, rather than being forced to go into a care home.
Personal alarm systems tend to come in two parts. The first is the base unit, installed by connecting it to the mains power and telephone socket. The base unit is the system’s hub and will be used by the Care Team to monitor and speak with alarm users. The best example of a personal alarm base unit is the Lifeline Vi Alarm.
The Lifeline Vi Alarm Base Unit contains the very latest Telecare technology. The ‘hub’ is manufactured by Tunstall in the UK and is their sixth-generation personal alarm unit. The base unit is a good size and comes in a grey and white finish. The unit will easily fit in with other bits of furniture at home.
The unit is very easy to install and can simply be connected up by the alarm user or by one of their friends or family. To begin, plug the personal alarm into the existing telephone socket. Next, plug the telephone into the unit with the adaptor provided. Finally, plug the alarm unit into a power socket and the device will be ready to test.
To test the alarm, press the red help button on the base unit. The Care Team will know that the alarm is being tested and will respond over the loudspeaker. The team member will talk the alarm user through the test and let them know that everything is up and running. We advise that the alarm is tested at least once a month.
As mentioned, the Lifeline Vi Alarm Unit features a loudspeaker and microphone. Our Care Team will use this to communicate with alarm users in an emergency and during the monthly test calls.
The loudspeaker has been designed to be loud enough to be heard even if the alarm user is not in the same room. There’s no need to panic if the alarm user can’t hear the Care Team in an emergency, help will still be arranged and sent to their home.
The personal alarm will also continue to work during a power cut. The Lifeline Vi Alarm has a back-up battery which has a 40-hour charge. This battery will kick-in should a power cut occur, to ensure that you can still call for help if you suffer a fall during this time.
Once the power cut is over, the back-up battery will begin to charge once again so that it is fully charged and ready to boot-up should another power cut occur.
- Weight – 572g
- Dimensions – 185mm x 122mm x 41mm (WxLxD)
The second part of the alarm system comes in the form of a pendant button. This little button can be pressed by the user to indicate that they need help. The pendant should be worn throughout the day, whether the user is inside the home or outside in the garden.
Every Lifeline Vi Alarm Unit comes with a MyAmie Pendant, which will be worn by the alarm user. This Pendant has been designed with the user’s comfort in mind. The Pendant is small and discreet, which ensures that it can be hidden easily and won’t attract attention. In fact, the pendant is half the size of the previous model – but the button is a third larger.
It can be worn as a necklace or around the wrist like a watch. Both attachments are included alongside the alarm. Other features include:
- Waterproof – The MyAmie can be worn in the bath or shower – where falls are more likely because of slippery surfaces.
- 100 Metre Range – The pendant will work outside in the garden. It has a range of up to 100 metres, which means that alarm users can still enjoy playing with their grandchildren outside or preserving their garden.
- No Charging – The MyAmie uses batteries, which last around seven years, and a replacement will be issued once they run out.
The MyAmie Pendant is comfortable to wear, with some customers never taking their device off – even when they leave their home. An additional pendant can also be added to the system. One could be for inside the home and the other for the garden. Alternatively, users could leave a spare on their bedside table.
The Vibby Fall Detector is sleek, stylish, technologically advanced and can be worn around your neck just like the MyAmie Pendant. The main difference is that the Vibby can detect when you suffer a fall and will automatically send an alert call to our Care Team – there’s no need to press a button.
The vibby pendant is sleek and stylish, finished in a modern, shiny white finish which is made from hypoallergenic plastic. It weighs only 35g and can be hidden from sight rather easily by tucking it under your sleeve. Waterproof functionality means that you’ll be able to raise an alarm if you slip in the bathroom.
A red LED light will flash to signify that a call has been made to our 24-hour Care Team. Confirmation that an alarm has been raised is shown via an LED light on the Vibby, which will also vibrate to signify that an alert call has been sent. To cancel an alarm call, simply cover the face of the Vibby with your hands or stand up with the 20 second period after the fall was detected.
There are only three buttons on the Lifeline base unit. Each of these buttons has a simple function:
- Red Help Button – This works in the same way as the red pendant button. This can be pressed in an emergency situation as an alternative.
- Green Cancel Button – Press this button if the red help button is pressed by mistake. The help call will be cancelled. Don’t worry if the alarm call isn’t cancelled in time, the situation can be explained once the Care Team has answered.
- Yellow Home/Away Button – This button can be pressed if the alarm user is going to be away for a long period of time. It lets our Care Team know that there is no need to panic if they don’t hear from them in a while.
Once the alarm is installed, Lifeline24 customers are connected to the Care Team. They will be ready to take calls 24 hours a day, which means somebody will always respond when the pendant is pressed. The Care Team have been Accredited from the Telecare Services Association (TSA) for our life-saving service – industry and standards body for Telecare and Telehealth services in the UK.
The highly-trained team work 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure that help is always available to all of our users. Once the red help button is pressed the Care Team will receive an instant alert. The following process will happen:
- A team member will respond within seconds and speak with the alarm user over the base unit’s loudspeaker, to see what has happened.
- The situation is then assessed to see which steps need to be taken.
- The team member will call emergency contacts (see section below) and explain what has happened. The emergency services will also be notified if needed. We keep medical records on file, and this information will be passed onto the paramedics. This places them in the best possible position to help once they arrive on the scene.
- The team member will keep checking on the alarm user to reassure and check on them.
- Help will arrive at the front door. With a Keysafe installed, paramedics will be able to gain access to the property if the door is locked.
Emergency contacts are a very important part of our service. These are the people who will be contacted should an alarm user press their pendant. They will be contacted by our Care Team, informed of the situation and asked to travel to the alarm user’s home immediately.
Customers select their emergency contacts during the ordering process, however they can be changed at a later date. We advise that at least two people are chosen as emergency contacts. Common choices by our customers include:
- Close Friends.
For our system to work in the most effective way, we do require at least one emergency contact who ideally, lives within 45 minutes of the user. The Care Team will work their way through the list of emergency contacts in the hope that one will answer and will be able to assist the user. If they, for whatever reason, are unable to contact one of the nominated people, they will contact the emergency services, should they not be able to get through to anybody.
Don’t worry, the emergency services will always be contacted should they be needed.
Once the elderly alarm is installed users will be connected to our Care Team. The highly-trained team work 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure that our customers always have somebody to call for help.
Personal alarms are exempt from VAT. As long as customers meet the criteria set by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) there is no need to pay any VAT when the alarm is ordered.
To qualify for VAT Exemption alarm users will need to have a long-term illness, terminal illness or a disability. Examples of conditions include:
There are a few misconceptions about the personal alarm that may make some people hesitant about joining our life-saving service. Our alarms are quick and easy to install and are very simple to use. There’s no need to have any concerns about joining our service and we can ensure that these myths are just that.
One myth about personal alarms is that they won’t work during a power cut. This isn’t the case. Our alarms have a back-up battery, which includes 40 hours of charge. Should a power cut occur, this back-up battery will power-up to ensure that you can still press your pendant for help. Once power is restored, the back-up battery will begin to charge once again so that it is ready for the next power cut.
Another myth is that you won’t be able to wear your pendant whilst you’re having a bath or shower. Our pendant is waterproof! This means that if you slip or fall in the bath tub, you can still press your pendant to raise an alarm with our Care Team.
See our top five myths, which will put minds at ease about the personal alarm.
A personal alarm adds safety to the home. A Keysafe adds a little extra security. A Keysafe is a secure metal box that can be attached to the exterior wall of a property. Inside the keysafe, the owner keeps a spare key, or keys, to their home.
This is much better than hiding spare keys underneath plant pots and door mats. Doing this can leave someone’s property in danger from thieves who check for keys in spots like these. With a Keysafe, keys will be locked behind a secure door and a code chosen by the owner.
This code should only be shared with those who need access to these keys. The code should also be passed on to the Care Team, as they can then share this information with the emergency services during an emergency. Having this code will save time and allow paramedics to gain access to the property without causing any damage.
There are four Keysafes on offer at Lifeline24:
Looking after people’s well-being
This article has already touched upon how the personal alarm service can help ease the pressure on the NHS, but it is how it helps boost the morale and mental well-being of those who use it that is the real benefit.
Having an alarm at home boosts the confidence of the user and gives their families peace of mind that help is available when they need it. Residents who live alone no longer have to think about what might happen should they have an accident. Day or night somebody will be there to respond and send help.
As mentioned, it also helps to reassure families that their loved ones are being looked after. Should anything happen, the family will be the first to know about it and they can then visit their loved one’s home and help them. Lifeline24 provides peace of mind to everybody involved.
We hear great stories through our reviews and case studies about how the Lifeline Alarm has made such a difference. One alarm user, Peter Johnson, had the following to say about the impact his personal alarm has had:
I just feel that I don’t have to worry as much anymore. With me, I have a greater risk of falling with my legs giving way, and if I do then there is just no way of getting back up off the floor. The knowledge that the personal alarm is there, and if something bad does happen that it is there, means that there is no need to worry so much. – Mr. Johnson
Once you join our life-saving service you’ll also be assigned a dedicated account manager. This means that if you have any queries about your account, you’ll be able to give your account manager a direct call and talk about them over the phone.
Have a question? Find out more about the personal alarm
For more information on purchasing one of our life-saving personal alarms, send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Editor’s note: Originally published on October 2, 2017. Updated on May 13, 2019 to include up-to-date information.