In a blog, an anonymous British social worker responds to the Guardian article on the lack of take up of telecare in the UK (see ‘UK’s social care plans are likely to back telecare‘) and reflects on community alarms and telecare. It’s a viewpoint that we do not often get spontaneously, so it is worth a read.
And yes, there is, as the author says, “probably lots of other types of equipment that I haven’t even begun to explore.” He or she works in an ‘older peoples team’ and rates the employing authority as good on telecare. Which makes you worry even more about authorities that are not so good.
Response: Social worker sits on panic alarm
As the author of that post, perhaps I should justify my lack of knowledge of every piece of equipment that could possibly be provided!
Yes, I work with older adults but I work in a specialist mental health team based out of a psychiatric hospital – I have not and do not carry out community care assessments where most of the initial needs would be identified but for the most part am engaged with a longer term therapeutic role for which people are referred to me from social services. Of course, as usually happens, when there is a change of circumstance or perhaps a deterioration of mental state, that is when I would make the relevant referral for assistive technology.
I am not sure the point you are exactly trying to make about me or the authority that I work for – that because, I personally, as one specialist social worker, am not aware of every single piece of equipment that might possibly be available that somehow that is a cause for worry? That’s why we have a specialist telecare officer who is available to assess for us and advise in particular situations about what is the most suitable equipment to install.
I was, in fact, trying to present a positive piece about how different pieces of equipment have affected those with whom I have and do work but clearly it wasn’t quite positive enough.
Sits on panic alarm
Many thanks for responding. First, may I say that I didn’t mean my post to come across negatively about you or your council. Of course no-one expects you to be up to date on everything that’s available and it is great that you are aware that you are not. What is worrying is the workers who are out of date but who think they know it all.
Telecare Aware has a wide industry readership and they rarely get spontaneous and thoughtful comments from social workers or users, so I really welcomed your blog post. However, to amplify my comments a little, many Telecare Aware readers have been frustrated for years on two fronts in particular:
1) The perpetuation of the equation of ‘telecare’ with pendant alarms, when it has been known within the industry that many people fail to have their pendants with them when they need it – hence my picking up on the reference to sitting on them! I was pleased to see that you pointed out that there is a much wider range of devices. (See the post ‘Britain’s Got Pendants‘ for discussion on this matter.)
2) However much a social worker or other council employee intends to be consultative and user-centred when they visit someone at home, the reality is that people see them as authority figures. So, social worker thinks… “you need some telecare here”… it comes out as… “The council can provide you with a pendant alarm”… and is interpreted as… “I MUST have a pendant alarm from the council” when, in fact, other technology may be much more appropriate.
I was pleased to hear that you work for a council with a good telecare service that can make a proper assessment of a person’s needs. I hear too many examples of councils that just install a ‘standard package’ of pendant, fall detector, smoke alarm and flood or movement detectors and think they have done some good for the client, when perhaps what they have actually provided is false reassurance because the pendant isn’t to hand when needed; the fall detector produces false positives so it isn’t worn; and the flood detector only works when water is already spilling over the floor.
Re: Social worker sits on panic alarm
Read the Guardian article, is legislation really allow such execution on social issues? [irrelevant link to cisco removed]