Counsel and Care today urged the UK government to invest in telecare in England citing new research from Scotland showing benefits for service users and the taxpayer.
The charity, which is holding its annual conference today, said the forthcoming green paper on the future funding of social care needed to lead to sustained investment in telecare to ensure the potential of new technology is fulfilled.
An evaluation of the Scottish government’s Telecare Development Programme, published yesterday, quantified a range of benefits from the £8.35m invested from 2006-8 in the 32 local health and social care partnerships:
- Eighteen partnerships reported avoiding an estimated 1,220 hospital admissions, accounting for 13,870 bed days, by the end of 2007-8.
- 20 partnerships reported reducing the number of delayed discharges by 517, accounting for 5,668 bed days, by the end of 2007-8.
- 23 partnerships reported having avoided an estimated 518 care home admissions, accounting for 61,993 care home bed days, by the end of 2007-8. This was particularly successful for people with dementia.
- 60% of service users questioned by researchers reported that their quality of life was a bit or much better with just 5% reporting reduced quality of life.
- 70% felt more independent and 93% of respondents felt safer.
- 50% of informal carers said they felt a bit less stressed following the installation of telecare equipment and a quarter felt much less stressed.
- Estimated savings of £11.15m were made in 2007-8.
- Around 7,900 people benefited from services in 2007-8.
The Scottish government has extended the programme from 2008-10 with a further £8m in funding.
The study defined telecare as equipment and detectors installed in people’s own homes to provide continuous, automatic and remote monitoring of people’s care needs, emergencies and lifestyle changes.
Though the UK government has provided £80m for preventive technology for local authorities in England, Counsel and Care said this constituted limited investment.
Chief executive Stephen Burke said: “Helping older people live longer in their own home and improving safety and security are key aims. If by using telecare we can make this happen and make better use of public funding, then it’s a win win for everyone. But we need to ensure that future investment in telecare is substantial and well planned across the country.”