Telecare and telehealth continue their climb up the UK Government's agenda

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Although not named as such, both were referred to in the Chancellor’s 2007 Pre-Budget Report and Spending Review statement published yesterday. The banner phrase is “to promote greater independence and well-being in later life”, for which read, “reduce or postpone the cost of the ageing population on state resources.” (I paraphrase Paragraph 6.9, page 104) Also, the Department of Health (DH) will lead on the development of two cross-governmental Public Service Agreements (PSAs) in this area. Further, 6.8 signals a national roll-out of the Partnership for Older People‚Äôs Projects (POPPs) programme – these include strong telecare components.

Given what has come out of the Transforming Community Equipment Services project, it is interesting to see the statement signal a shift in emphasis from state provision for people who need it (as embedded in UK law, culture and expectations) to one of shared costs. “Many older people need help to prolong their independence and maintain their wellbeing, whether this is in their own home or in residential or nursing care. This help may include practical support in their daily lives and financial support from the state to pay for these services or to help with the extra costs of disability. In this, there is an underlying assumption that there is a joint financial responsibility between the Government and the individual or family.” (6.7) It may be an underlying assumption in the Treasury and DH, but it may come as a surprise to many people that this change will affect. It will be interesting to see if, when, and how, the forthcoming new Green Paper on Adult Social Care also announced this week, will lead to changes in legislation to enable this cost sharing.

Back to telecare: the strongest indication that it is firmly on the agenda is the statement “Individuals need to be supported to take control of their own care, while services need to be provided where and when they are most convenient. In the long term, increasing life expectancy and lifestyle changes pose additional challenges. Future technological developments need to be grasped to further improve [sic] the quality of life people are able to enjoy.” (D2.3, p209)

For broader takes on the Chancellor’s report, see this item by eHealthInsider and this by Community Care.

The statement itself can be viewed/downloaded from the BBC’s website.