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Call for urgent action on latest state of the NHS Providers report

By News, Uncategorised

Article published in Care Sector Hub.

A new report on the challenges facing the NHS and the provision of community services has revealed the urgent need for healthcare commissioners to invest in cost effective digital telecare services and applications. 

NHS Providers’ State of the provider sector report, entitled ‘Community services: taking centre stage’ confirmed that technology has enabled “multiple interventions” to be carried out in the home or in community settings, which is essential to the integrity of healthcare provision as the population ages. 

However, the report sets out how community services are struggling to meet demand as budgets decline. It further highlights that the majority (three quarters) of community care providers in England are worried that investment will fail to deliver services closer to home for patients in the next five years. 

Tom Morton, CEO of telecare specialist Communicare247, said digital telecare services which enable people to stay in their homes longer as well as save commissioners cash were essential to overcoming the community care crunch facing England.

He said: “We welcome the report from NHS Providers which sets out in stark terms the damage that the lack of adequate support for people in their homes can cause.

“According to the report, a person aged 80 who spends ten days in a hospital bed adds ten years of ageing to their muscles, which makes their ability to live independently that much harder. 

“Demographic trends for the UK population are undeniable. The NHS and community care commissioners must act now to ensure that robust systems of telecare and tele-healthcare that deliver improved patient outcomes are put into use. The report found that 91% of health care trusts expect the gap between funding and demand to widen significantly just in the next year. 

“Not only this, but there is an urgent issue facing telecare service providers as the UK telephone network switches to digital. Existing systems are at risk and need to be modernised to deal with future requirements as soon as possible.

“We urge commissioners to plan and invest now in digital and technology-enabled care services such as 24-7 mobile monitoring, digital pill dispensers and other ‘[email protected]’ support systems. These are available, tested and deliver improved patient outcomes by ensuring people can leave hospital and get the care they need at home.”

Digital box and peripherals

Government commitment to digital paves way for telecare services but time to act is now

By News

A Scottish Government plan to deliver care at home for our citizens was welcomed by an industry leader who called for urgent action now that a digital strategy has been agreed.

Tom Morton, CEO of Communicare247, said the government’s commitment to digital telecare services in Scotland would deliver significant improvements to health and social care, such as a reduction in delayed discharge from hospitals and help to ensure our citizens will be able to remain living independently in their homes for as long as possible.

 But he said the government needs to remain focussed so that 160,000 users of telecare in Scotland continue to be supported by the service which is being rendered obsolete by changes to the UK telephone network.

The ‘Scotland’s Digital Health and Care Strategy’ sets out a Scottish Government pledge to “ensure that social care systems are fit for the future… and support the significant impact of the impending switch over of  the UK’s telephony system to a digital network and its impact on analogue telecare services”.

BT will soon start switching the UK’s analogue telephone network to a fully digital network. Work commencing in August 2018 is expected to be completed by 2025. However other telecom providers have already begun the journey. Scotland’s 32 local authorities and 22 alarm receiving centres will need to be fully adapted to the digital network when the analogue system is shut off.

However, some operators of alarm receiving centres which answer distress signals from telecare users are already experiencing spikes in rates of call failures, which are being blamed on network incompatibility.

Tom Morton, who founded digital telecare company Communicare247 in Scotland over ten years ago, said that local authorities have less time than they think to put in place the technology and finance required to deliver digital telecare services.

He said: “There are 160,000 telecare users in Scotland. The budget pressures for local authorities and care providers mean that they cannot achieve transition within the deadline unless Government acts to give a clear direction.

“Existing budget spend for analogue services, which are effectively rendered obsolete by this announcement, means that most councils will take up to nine years to transition the existing users over to a digital service.  However the Government also has aspirations to increase the deployment of telecare. 

“Meanwhile, between autumn 2018 and 2025, large swathes of the UK will be switched affecting up to 1.7m telecare users. Ofcom has warned of their concerns for the impact to social alarm service users.

“The Telecare Services Association is leading the discussions and attempting to raise awareness, but any change needs to be driven at the local service provider level – the council.

“Given the budget challenges, and the closing deadline, and the increasing risk which is evidenced by reports of alarm call handling failures, it is up to the Government to provide clear guidance for a rapid change to safeguard our citizens.  

“The Digital Health and Care Strategy is an excellent first step as it fully embraces possibilities that digital telecare services will provide for citizens. It paves the way for sensor and monitoring technologies that enable people to live independently at home for longer. It is also offers an effective plan that will reduce pressure on the NHS to discharge people in a timely manner, as home support will be much easier to implement. Scotland now has a clear direction of travel when it comes to digital telecare but there is no room for deviation.”

Scotland Excel Award

Communicare 247 Short listed for Scottish Excel Supplier Excellence Award – Local Excellence

By News

Communicare247 are delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for  the 2018 Scottish Excel, Supplier Excellence Awards for Local Excellence!

The award for local excellence recognises the work undertaken by micro-businesses, small companies or third sector organisations to deliver benefits to their customers.

Over the last 12 months, Communicare247 have been working with local authority Falkirk Council in their ambitious journey from analogue to digital.

Together, we have developed a state of the art platform designed to ease the transition between these two technologies while providing an effective level of care. As a proud Scottish SME, we are excited by the leaps we have taken. By simply listening to the wants and needs of our customer, we have been able to produce a unique cloud-based platform which integrates seamlessly with digital telecare services.

Although Communicare247 is small in stature, our ambition knows no limit. We aim to transform the UK telecare sector and improve the lives of millions of men and women.

We look forward to joining Scottish Excel on the 20th of February 2018 at the Radisson Blue, Glasgow and wait
with baited breath to find out the winner.

 

 

We need to switch to digitally-enabled care

By News

Article as published in The Scotsman

Business embraces digital technology, but the elderly and those in need are lagging behind when it comes to using it to provide their care.

Every day, business leaders make decisions about how they can apply the latest technology to provide them with a competitive advantage. This can extend to the alarm systems that protect their assets, to the £500 mobile phones used to support crucial business decisions on the move.

So why is it that we accept the use of outdated technology to protect our parents and those in need?

Current “telecare” systems – those alarms that sit by the phone or around people’s necks – use analogue, landline-based technology to raise the alarm.

This is the same technology that telecoms providers are pushing to move away from, with a 2025 deadline for the UK’s first moves towards withdrawing support for such infrastructure. By then it may already be too late, as even older consumers are moving to digital, mobile communications that work to meet their needs.

So what will happen to the alarm systems and supporting monitoring centres when the landlines disappear?

Sweden makes the move to digital

Other countries are far more advanced. The Swedish government was faced with pressure from a telecoms provider to use digital communications. With many of its elderly cared for at home, it recognised that it could no longer guarantee a safe service using analogue technology. It set out what was expected of municipalities, defined a set of service standards, and pressed “go”. Now almost half of the 215,000 people using such telecare services use digital technology.

Citizens can now start to realise the potential of the “smart home” and “internet of things” by connecting a range of devices to a central hub. Motion sensors can detect if people have fallen; personal alarms can work with handheld devices or on a mobile phone; smoke detectors can be checked remotely to see if they still work.

READ MORE: Warfare to welfare: digital ‘chaperone’ targets growth

Digital technology enables stakeholders to share information, and so provide more tailor-made health and care services such as telehealth and telemonitoring. Information can be shared to identify what support people need, which can help home care providers better arrange face-to-face contact, and support more efficient care assessment and planning. With fewer human and financial resources to look after the elderly, such advances are vital.

This would be unimaginable with the current infrastructure in place for home-based care. We need to make the move to digital and apply this technology to protect those who matter most.

Technology brings multiple benefits

How does Scotland compare to countries such as Sweden? It is getting there. The drive for digital is supported by a national digital broadband strategy, pooled health and care budgets, investments in technology-enabled care, and a uniting vision in the eHealth strategy.

As Shona Robison, cabinet minister for health and wellbeing, noted at eHealth Scotland: “As we move forward with the 2020 vision and integration of health and social care we must ensure that health and care services across Scotland effectively harness advances in digital technology to support a person-centred, seamless health and care journey for our citizens.”

Such political will needs to be matched by everyone involved in the industry to make digitally-enabled care a reality. Local authorities, care providers and digital communication innovators can come together to make this vision a reality.

It’s time to move on from these grossly inefficient analogue systems that do not meet the current needs of our citizens and hamper Scotland’s aspirations for person-centred home-based care. It’s time to commit to building a digital home care infrastructure.

Tom Morton is the founder and chief executive of Communicare247, which is hosted a conference, Delivering Scotland’s Vision for Integrated Digital Care, on Wednesday 1 June in Glasgow. The event showcased how Sweden and others are using such technology to provide an appropriate level of care for those in need. It also featured an update on Scotland’s vision for digital health and care, and how health and care leaders can make the bold, logical and inevitable move to digital.

Click on the link to view Mr. Morton’s Introduction to Integrated Digital Care

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