Unlike in the US where the internet is awash with advice for the public on ‘medical alarms’ – much of it of dubious quality that ignores the downsides – such advice in the UK is not so widespread. That’s probably because no one has yet managed to make direct to consumer marketing of telecare pay in the UK. However, here’s a valiant attempt from new company Care Harmony Solutions to fill the gap: 8 important points about personal alarms for the elderly and disabled.
Wow – if this is a serious attempt to improve the quality of information on social alarms and telecare that’s available to consumers on the web then I’m going to take a lie down in a darkened room!
It’s badly written and has serious factual errors.
Even the website makes it look as if this crowd runs their own monitoring centre (which they don’t) and offers their own brand of equipment (which they don’t).
Sorry Care Harmony – this is more like Care Noise!
1) Thank you Steve for the link
2) Thank you Jo for your comment. More than happy to publish a accurate factual account about personal alarms from you on our blog
3) The verdict whether we’re making noise or a difference in our clients’ lives should come from our clients. We are providing a simple but vital service and do it the best way possible. This is reflected in our clients’ views about our service.
Hossein – your blog posts are very clearly aligned to the services that you offer (which is not unreasonable) but they might come across better if you stick to explaining how what you do is of high quality, rather than criticising others to make your point.
I would also suggest that 100% satisfaction from your customers is an unrealistic measurement? what are they comparing your service too? how many of them have actually used the service? and so on. Of course it matters that they liked your professional and friendly technician … but is that a real measure of your service?
In response to your point 3 above – The telecare market in the UK does need a range of alternatives including high quality private services BUT you need to be clear that what you are offering is not based on a professional assessment of need but on what someone thinks might be a vaguely good idea.
Families become anxious about Mum or Dad being on their own and vulnerable. It is quite easy to persuade an anxious family that Mum might benefit from a personal alarm – but what about all the other interventions that Mum really could benefit from that you don’t offer?
When my colleagues include telecare in a support plan it is as a result of an holistic consideration of supports to meet that individual’s needs. They then include that in their reviews so they know it is continuing to be an effective support.
… I do agree with Jo about accuracy – for example you refer to a ” … mono-oxide carbon detector …”
Finally we held a discussion recently with a Reference Group of service users and carers and I think they would tell you that your photographs are limiting your market – they are too stereotypical and that means people see the image and move right along to somewhere else.
Cathy – you’ve made some good points and thanks for that. However, I’d like to clarify a few points:
1) We don’t intend to criticise other service providers. We only highlight some points based on our experience. I, along with a few practitioners, with overall 40 years of experience in health care left our 9-5 jobs to set up this service. Between us we’ve managed/done over 3000 telecare jobs in the last few years. These range from a simple baby monitors to help an elderly carer keeps an eye on his wife while working in his shed workshop to an epilepsy sensor monitored by a neighbour. During this period we’ve referred clients to other service providers such as fire service for home safety checks or charities such as British Red Cross. We’ve also received/ receive referrals from other providers and practitioners. We do not believe a personal alarm can, on its own, solve all problems that at risk people and their carers face. However, we know it can be of huge benefit. Indeed, we’re setting up a new service in partnership with a well-respected national charity to help some of our clients with no key contacts/friends or relatives. This service will soon be piloted in Thames Valley Area.
2) As a member of Buy with Confidence Scheme all our clients get a standard satisfaction questionnaire designed by Trading Standards and sent directly to them. They only share it with us if the client gives consent. Of course, we do our best to get 100% satisfaction with our technicians. This was exactly where we thought we’ll make a difference and we are. I give only one example: key safe is provided by a lot of local authorities and telecare providers as part of telecare package. I’m wondering if anyone has done a research to find out how many of these key safes hold the wrong keys. This is simply because a technician installed the key safe and asked the elderly resident to put a key inside it without testing whether that key was the right one. This can delay help in time of emergency. Or installing a key safe in a place where passersby can easily spot it which can be attractive to thieves. We’ve put other measures in place to make sure our clients receive an appropriate level of support when need be. For example, calling our clients who have raised an alarm to get feedback on their experience of using the service. Otherwise, there is no point of a service like us. We do provide devices from best manufacturers in the UK, use one of the best call centres in the country and do our best to ensure our clients receive the best service / support possible.
3) Thank you for pointing out the error (monoxide).
4) Would it be possible to have access to your report (reference group)? Do you mean the photographs of the devices? If yes, these are the products that we provide and I think customers have the right to see what they buy. We’ve recently started using products from other manufacturers and are doing changes in the site to reflect that. Also we offer various standalone technologies that are not displayed on our website.
We do not believe a personal alarm can, on its own, solve all problems that at risk people and their carers face. However, we know it can be of huge benefit.[/quote]
[i]… and that is the tricky balance between keeping your income stream and meeting need (which the public sector also increasingly faces!)[/i]
4) Would it be possible to have access to your report (reference group)?
Do you mean the photographs of the devices?[/quote]
Whilst I can’t share the full notes of the meeting of which this discussion was part I can talk about what was raised in respect of my comment – I was one of the facilitators.
The Group are all service users or informal carers who are meeting with us at intervals to look at a range of areas around Personalisation and Self-directed Support. Last time we discussed leaflets and webpages. I took along a selection of examples picked out randomly to cover the diverse styles from Local Authorities across the UK.
“what do you like?” (glossary, accessibility, printing already formatted, simple iconography, limited detail with links to follow if wished, leaflets as A4 folded to A5) and
“what don’t you like?” (triple fold leaflets, irrelevant advertising, busyness, photographs of people)
It was your banner photographs I was referring to – the answer from the group when asked why they didn’t want to see people based photographs? we associate those people with the product – so if that person is not like me the product is not for me!
Your banner photographs – nothing wrong with the quality – are limiting, especially when combined with language referring to elderly and disabled people. Then you have pictures of rather stern staff with headsets on.
It is the smoke and mirrors stuff of marketing – do your customers think to themselves “I am elderly” “I am disabled” then do they think “oh those staff look professional” or do they think “hmmm they look a bit scary with those things on their heads – how will they help me” remembering that a parallel thought is likely to be “I really don’t need help – I manage just fine and I don’t want to be a nusiance”
Thank you Cathy! Extremely useful. We’ll surely take on board your points.