Help at the touch of a button

PUBLISHED: 20:00 23 July 2011




ONE in two people aged over 85 will suffer a fall this year.

The result can be nothing more than a bruise or knock, leaving the elderly person involved relatively unfazed. But it can be more serious, even fatal, if that individual cannot get back up and call for help.

It is for that reason why many people approaching the later years of their life make the difficult decision to leave their independence behind and enter a nursing home. But others are now finding there is another way.

In North Somerset, 2,500 people use a scheme called Carelink.

The locally-managed North Somerset Council scheme, which promotes itself with the message ‘help at the touch of the button’, has been going for 15 years.

And this year it has received special national praise for assisting people’s independence, and been cited as an example for similar initiatives being rolled out across the country.

North Somerset Council leader Nigel Ashton said: “The use of Carelink in North Somerset is a real success story, with the number of users dramatically increasing in the last 18 months.

“We have provided our residents, who choose to stay at home for longer, with a lifeline to the outside world if they need it.

“This scheme adds security and peace of mind both to our residents and their families.”

The scheme is a monitored community alarm system which allows users to speak to a 
fully-trained call centre operator by the touch of a button via a device worn on the wrist or around the neck.

This means the operator can hear and speak to residents without them having to reach a telephone. When help is needed, the operator will contact nominated carers, such as family members, or the emergency services.

Councillor Ashton said: “For those not currently using the service, we would ask friends and families to see if they can think of anyone that could benefit from this support which could ultimately become vital in the event of illness or a fall.

“By providing this support, people can continue to live normally much later on in life.”

The cost of the scheme is worked out on a weekly basis and varies from £1.76 to £4.08 depending on personal circumstances.

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