3 thoughts on “Choosing a telecare mobile phone (UK)

  1. Good sensible and practical advice from Guy as usual. Some people will spot how he has described two business opportunities:

    1) the basic mobile with big display and buttons, and with an extra red one on the back for emergency use – this could replace the existing dispersed alarm unit (or carephone) in many cases. The fact that there are several models on the market for under £30 (pay-as-you-go)makes this an attractive proposition for vulnerable people who have chosen not to pay for a landline, and an ideal DIY telecare proposition; and

    2) the smart phone with a number of downloaded mCare or mHealth apps which are selected to manage the risks and unmet needs identified through formal assessment. The issues of battery management when multiple apps are running at the same time, plus potential conflicts in the use of the integral sensors and other resources, would suggest that this is not an approach for the amateur telecare enthusiast. A professional telecare service would be needed to select the apps and the hardware and provide quality assurance and training for the end user, plus the setting up of responses and escalation procedures.

    As Guy suggests, there will be many, many options and a need for knowledgable prescribers to match the technology to the individual.

  2. Kevin, I’d like to pick up on your response. There are already several developers of quality healthcare applications for smartphones and, unless the ‘big red button’ is neccessary for physical or visual reasons, it’s actually very simple to set up a panic/assistance button using any mobile or smart-phone or using a keypad and speed-dial functions.

    However, the real key to the success for adoption, which you have alluded to, is the requirement for the ‘behind the button’ platform that will manage the risk and provide the fail-safe support, manage the duty of care, to ensure that end users and their carers are reassured and satisfied of the robust nature of the service being provided.

    Argyll has been delivering ‘mobile’ based risk management solutions since 1998. Current ‘high risk’ examples of this type of technology in action are within our own applications used for supporting police in their duty of care to victims of crime or within witness protection services. Without compromising sensitivities this could include the identification of low battery power levels and associated alerting protocols; the accurate positioning of the device being used; maximising connectivity with the mobile networks irrespective of geography; confirming last known contact with the mobile network; monitoring activity levels and establishing escalation processes based upon the risk analysis of the individual being monitored etc. In short and to paraphrase your own comment, this level of service is not for the ‘faint-hearted’ and it’s absoluely vital that any provider considering this style of service should recognise the need for proper back-bone infrastructure that can support the duty of care for all stakeholders and including Local Authority and private monitoring centre partners.

  3. Tom is right to point out that mobile alarm systems are not new, and that they have already benefitted several groups of people by combining location and manually-generated alerts. My prediction is that sophisticated algorithms that use much more of the smartphone’s processing power and on-board sensors will be offered, which will enable context-aware advice or alerts to be offered. Indeed, as these additional functions can be turned on at any time (and at little extra cost), the challenge may be to limit the number of applications so that people don’t feel that they are over-monitored (and to ensure that the battery doesn’t give up).
    As with telecare, mCare solutions will need to be based on a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s needs and risks. If this profile is correct then there is every chance that the prescription of apps (and the service that underpins them) will be appropriate and popular, enabling 21st Century support to be extended into the community and to benefit groups, including those with mental health problems, who should not be confined to their home environment.

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