Last Autumn, Paul Gee, Chief Executive of the UK’s Telecare Services Association, got on the Soapbox and asked the question Tesco Telecare – How far away?
Well, it looks to me that the consumer-demand led future for telecare has already taken another step closer.
The UK’s largest home improvement retailer, B&Q, has just launched a new initiative called Living Made Easier. Over 500 products in its stores and online catalogue are stickered with a ‘Can do’ logo indicating that the product the person is looking at has been identified as making life easier for… everyone. (“To ensure that they can be used by as many people as possible” as B&Q puts it.) It’s a great example of inclusive design mentality in action and should, if it takes off, encourage more designers to consider the needs of older and less physically able people for products that are stylish but are also lightweight, easy to grip, easier to see, etc.
The Living Made Easier branding is an example of B&Q’s older person- and disabled person-friendly policies in action. The scheme features on its current website home page: www.diy.com
When you follow the link you also find that B&Q has incorporated the DLF’s AskSARA self-assessment program!
That’s great thinking!
When you come across a product selected for the Living Made Easier branding online, it is clearly marked
and there are in-store brochures for people who do not find the items online.
Telecare gets a toe dipping
Yes, there is one product that edges its way into telecare territory. It is the Distress Alert System by Yale. A panic button auto-dials up to three pre-programmed numbers with a recorded message.
What are the implications?
First, it will be interesting to see whether people receiving social services help by way of an individual budget [the UK Government wants councils to give people they help budgets to spend on their care, in place of providing their services] will opt to spend a one-off £45.98 of their budget on a system like Yale’s Distress Alert System rather than a more expensive telecare system with monthly costs, and put the money saved to other uses.
Second, if you work in social services, do your utmost to publicise B&Q’s Living made easier initiative to all council staff who come into contact with older and disabled people. If it is a roaring success B&Q will, no doubt, be encouraged to seek out new products to add. I have a few suggestions! Download the pdf version of the brochure if you want to see what is listed so far, then add your suggestions as a comment below and I will send them a list.