The UK has an ageing population, which means that pressure on hospitals and the care sector is increasing. Waiting times for both planned and urgent medical treatment are on the rise. However, Personal alarms can help. Having a personal alarm system can help people continue living safely in the comfort of their own home, rather than moving into a care home or staying in a hospital bed that is in demand.
This article will explain how personal alarms work. We will also discuss why the personal alarm service is necessary, before taking a look at the different kinds of alarms on offer.
Help When You Need it Most
A personal alarm is an ideal solution for elderly and disabled people, especially those who live alone. Accidents and medical emergencies are always a worry for those who live by themselves. What would happen if you had a fall? Even for people who live with others, it can be difficult to get the help you need in an emergency.
Statistics show that falls are the most common cause of hospital admissions and injury-related deaths in people over the age of 75. In fact, deaths as a result of falls more than doubled between 2008 and 2016.
Personal alarms can help prevent these problems. If the wearer suffers a fall, one touch of their pendant button will raise a call for assistance. 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 the alarm is never used for an emergency, it will give a psychological boost to the wearer. They will feel more confident and enjoy living in the comfort of their home, rather than feeling forced to go into a care home. Read more about the benefits of having a personal alarm.
How Do Personal Alarms Work?
Personal alarm systems tend to come in two parts. The first is the base unit, which connects to the mains power and telephone socket. The base unit is the system’s hub. This is how the Response Team will monitor and speak with alarm users. The best example of a personal alarm base unit is the Lifeline Vi Alarm – our standard personal alarm system.
The second part of most alarm systems is a pendant button. The user should wear their pendant throughout the day, whether they are inside the home or outside in the garden. In the event of an emergency, the user should press this button to call for assistance.
Pressing the alarm button will raise an alert with the Response Team. A member of the team will answer the call and ask the alarm user what has happened. This will help them determine the best course of action. In most cases, the Response Team will call on the user’s chosen emergency contacts to come and help them. If it’s a medical emergency, the Response Team will also call for an ambulance.
It’s important to note that not all personal alarms require a base unit or a landline connection. There are also personal alarms with extra safety features such as fall detection. Next, let’s take a look at the different types of personal alarms available.
The Lifeline Vi Alarm Base Unit contains the very latest telecare technology. It is manufactured by Tunstall in the UK and is their sixth-generation personal alarm unit. The base unit is compact and comes in a grey and white finish. The unit will easily fit in with other bits of furniture at home.
Features of the Lifeline Vi Alarm Unit
The Lifeline Vi Alarm Unit features a built-in loudspeaker and microphone. Our Response Team will use this to communicate with alarm users in an emergency and during any test calls.
The loudspeaker is designed to be loud enough to be heard even from another room. However, there’s no need to panic if the alarm user can’t hear the Response 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 with a 40-hour charge. This battery will kick-in in the event of a power cut, 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 automatically recharge itself so that it is ready to boot-up if another power cut occurs.
How to Install the Lifeline Vi Alarm Unit
The unit couldn’t be easier to install. Anyone – whether it’s the alarm user themselves or a friend or relative – can set it up in minutes.
- To begin, plug the personal alarm unit into the existing telephone socket.
- Next, plug the telephone into the alarm 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 Response 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. The user will have the opportunity to test their pendant in different rooms of the house as well as outside in the garden.
- Weight – 572g
- Dimensions – 185mm x 122mm x 41mm (WxLxD)
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. You can press this button in an emergency to raise an alert call.
- Green Cancel Button – If you press your red button by mistake, there is no need to panic. You can press the green button to cancel the call. Don’t worry if the alarm call isn’t cancelled in time. The Response Team will always be glad to know that you are alright.
- Yellow Home/Away Button – If the alarm user is going away for a long period of time, they can press this Home/Away button. It lets our Response Team know that there is no need to panic if they don’t hear from them in a while.
Our standard personal alarm system comes with a Lifeline Vi Alarm Unit and a MyAmie Pendant. The Pendant is small and discreet, which ensures that it can be worn comfortably and won’t attract attention. In fact, the pendant is half the size of the previous model – but the emergency button is a third larger.
You can choose to wear it as a necklace or around the wrist like a watch. Both attachments are included alongside the alarm.
Features of the MyAmie Pendant
- 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 tending to their garden.
- No Charging – The MyAmie uses batteries, which last around seven years. We will issue replacement batteries before they run out.
The MyAmie Pendant is comfortable to wear. Some users tell us that they never take their pendants off – even when they leave their home. You may also choose to add an additional pendant to your system. One could be for inside the home and the other for the garden. Alternatively, users could leave a spare on their bedside table.
For extra peace of mind, lots of users choose to upgrade to a Fall Detector pendant. The Vibby Fall Detector is sleek, stylish, and technologically advanced. Users can wear it on the wrist or like a necklace, just like the MyAmie pendant. The main difference is that the Vibby can detect when the user suffers a fall and automatically send an alert call to our Response Team – there’s no need to press a button.
The Vibby pendant is compact and comfortable to wear, made from hypoallergenic plastic with a modern white finish. It weighs only 35g and is no bigger than the face of the watch. It’s also waterproof, so you can raise an alert if you fall in the bathroom.
A red LED light will flash to signify that a call has been made to our 24-hour Response Team. The Vibby pendant will also vibrate to confirm that the alarm has been raised. To cancel an alarm call, simply cover the face of the Vibby with your hands or stand up within 20 seconds of the fall.
You can also press the face of the Vibby pendant to raise an alarm call, whether you have fallen or not.
The latest addition to our range of personal alarms is the cutting-edge GO GPS Alarm. While our standard pendants have an impressive range of 100 metres, the GO GPS alarm gives you even more freedom and flexibility. Instead of a landline connection, the GO connects to the mobile network and uses GPS technology to protect the wearer wherever they go.
The GO GPS Alarm does not require a base unit. Instead, the powerful pendant works by itself and contains a built-in speaker and microphone so the user can communicate with our Response Team. The pendant itself is lightweight and stylish, weighing just 33 grams. It’s around the size of a car key fob. The GO GPS alarm comes with 2 attachments: a hypoallergenic steel chain for wearing around the neck and a split ring for attaching the GO to your keyring.
Just like our other personal alarms, the GO GPS Alarm is incredibly easy to set up. Just plug in the provided wireless charging station and lay the GO down on top. It will start charging automatically. After just a few hours, the GO will be fully charged and ready for use. Then, simply press and hold the two buttons (one on each side of the device) to make your first test call.
The GO GPS Alarm is the most advanced of our personal alarms. It’s perfect for those who want to live an active, independent lifestyle with total peace of mind.
All of our alarm users are connected to the Lifeline Response Team. The team operates 24 hours a day, which means that somebody will always respond when you press your pendant. What’s more, the Lifeline Response Centre has received Platinum accreditation from the Telecare Services Association (TSA) for our life-saving service. The TSA is the industry and standards body for Telecare and Telehealth services in the UK.
We use the latest technology to ensure our service is reliable. What’s more, our team have dedicated hotlines to local ambulance services across the country. This speeds up the process even further, ensuring that help will be on its way within a few minutes.
Whenever a user raises the alarm, the Response Team will receive an instant alert. Here’s what happens next:
- A team member will respond within seconds. They will speak with the alarm user over the loudspeaker to see what has happened.
- The Response Team will assess the situation and determine the best course of action.
- The team member will call your emergency contacts (see section below) and explain what has happened. If necessary, they will also notify the emergency services. If the user has provided any medical information, the team will pass this information on to paramedics where appropriate. 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 while they wait for assistance.
- Help will arrive at the front door. With a keysafe installed, paramedics will be able to gain access to the property even if the door is locked.
Emergency contacts are an important part of our service. These are the people we will contact when an alarm user presses their alarm and needs help. Our Response Team will call them, inform them of the situation and ask them to travel to the alarm user’s home immediately.
Alarm users select their emergency contacts during the set-up process, but can still change them at a later date. We advise choosing at least two people as emergency contacts. Most people choose one or more of the following:
- Close Friends.
Ideally, there should be at least one emergency contact who lives reasonably close to the alarm user, so that they can get to the user’s house quickly in an emergency. In an emergency, the Response Team will begin by calling the first emergency contact on the user’s list. If that person does not respond or is unable to attend for any reason, the Response Team will simply move on to the next person on the list. In the rare event that they are unable to contact any of the emergency contacts, they will call the emergency services to provide assistance.
Once the elderly alarm is installed, users will be connected to our Response Team. The highly-trained team operates 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 the alarm user meets the criteria set by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) there is no need to pay any VAT when you order the alarm.
To qualify for VAT Exemption, the alarm user will need to have a long-term illness, terminal illness or disability. Examples of conditions include:
There are a few misconceptions about personal alarms that may make some people hesitant to join our life-saving service. Our alarms are quick and easy to install and are very simple to use.
One myth about personal alarms is that they won’t work during a power cut. This isn’t the case. The Lifeline Vi Alarm unit has 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. Meanwhile, the GO GPS alarm has its own rechargeable battery, which lasts 1-2 months between charges.
Another myth is that you won’t be able to wear your pendant whilst you’re having a bath or shower. In fact, all our alarm pendants are waterproof! This means that if you slip or fall in the bath or shower, you can still press your pendant to raise an alarm with our Response Team.
We’ve debunked the top five myths about personal alarms, which we hope will put minds at ease.
A personal alarm can keep you safe at home. A Keysafe adds an extra layer of security. A Keysafe is a secure metal box that you can attach to the exterior wall of a property. Inside the keysafe, the owner keeps one or more spare keys to their home.
A Keysafe is so much safer than hiding spare keys underneath plant pots and doormats, which can make you vulnerable to thieves who check for keys in spots like these. With a Keysafe, keys will be safely stored behind a secure combination lock.
You can then share this combination with your emergency contacts. You should also pass the code on to the Response Team, who can then share this information with the emergency services during an emergency. This way, paramedics will be able to enter your home quickly and safely to assist you, without causing any costly damage to your property.
There are five Keysafes on offer at Lifeline24:
Looking after people’s well-being
Having an alarm at home can boost the user’s confidence and give their loved ones peace of mind. People who live alone no longer have to worry about what might happen if they have an accident. Day or night, somebody will always be there to respond and send help.
As mentioned, personal alarms also reassure families that their loved ones are being looked after. If anything happens, we can notify your family straight away. Lifeline24 provides peace of mind to everybody involved.
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 about our life-saving personal alarms, send an email at email@example.com 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.
You can also order your Lifeline alarm online today. All our personal alarms are sent out with free next-day delivery, so you could be up and running within just 24 hours.
Editor’s note: Originally published on 2 October 2017. Updated on 10 May 2021 to include up-to-date information.