Black’s Blog: Jimmy Black fuses sheltered housing and telecare

Jimmy Black

Jimmy Black

In sheltered housing you get a pendant to call the warden. Outside sheltered housing, you get telecare. Two very different things, bought by two very different departments, under two very different procurement regimes?

Historically, perhaps. But nowadays, they’re not different at all. Two of the market leading warden call systems (Tunstall & Tynetec) are also market leading telecare systems. The question is … are you using them to their full potential?

Traditionally, warden call systems allowed tenants to contact someone on site when they needed help, and maybe not much else. Things have changed.

Typically tenants get a daily phone call from the warden, and that can be reassuring and irritating at the same time. Now the Tynetec system, for example, has an “I’m OK” button which tenants can choose to press to avoid a phone call in the middle of their yoga routine … or breakfast … or favourite old movie.

Both these systems can offer sensors which monitor movement and activity inside the house. If there is none for an unusual period, the system alerts a carer. They also offer door alarms when someone living with dementia goes out late at night, and GPS trackers for people at risk of wandering.

But it’s not just about alarms. There are gadgets you can add to allow tenants to take their blood pressure, oxygen or glucose levels and other vital signs, and send them automatically to a monitoring station. There’s a locked pill dispenser for people with dementia which sounds an alarm when its time for medicine … and releases only the correct pills.

Telehealth and Telecare are big news just now, with strong government backing. You may be a Health & Social Care professional trying to find investment to bring telecare to your local sheltered housing tenants. Check the warden call system … and the community alarm system. All the features you require may already have been bought and paid for, and just waiting to be brought into use.

Jimmy Black retired as Councillor for Dundee’s Coldside in May. He works for Dundee Voluntary Action in Technology Enabled Care.