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WHAT IS THE BEST TELECARE / CARELINE PERSONAL PENDANT ALARM FOR THE ELDERLY?

Updated: Jan 16


Emergency Monitoring and Call Center Head phone sitting on a hardware


How can I choose the best SOS Alarm for my Family?

With so many Telecare / Careline personal pendant alarms on the market you may ask “how can I choose the best one for me?”.

Looking for the best careline or SOS alarm pendant for your elder parent can be a difficult decision? Should you pick the lifeline offered by the council and is it free? How do these systems compare and which one should I pick?

Not every system will be suitable for everyone – with so many buzz buzzwords such as Telecare, Telehealth, SOS alarm, GSM Alarm, Senior Alarm, Medical Pendant it can be confusing. Telecare means Telephone-care and covers careline/lifeline. Telehealth means Telephone-health-care. Both have a call centre where an operator determines whether to call emergency services or nominated contacts.

WHAT ARE CARELINE/LIFELINE/TELECARE SERVICES (OR DEVICES) AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

The devices that are worn around the neck are pendants which are essentially remote controls that connect to a box wired to a phone socket, what was originally called the PSTN network.

Phone companies intend to withdraw the existing analogue telephone system, called the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), by 2025. The PSTN is an aging network that is becoming harder and more expensive to maintain. The withdrawal of the PSTN is industry-led and will be replaced with VOIP type phone network systems.

When the pendent button is pressed the box automatically dials a call centre (Speed-Dial). Similar devices can also be attached to the wrist and can be waterproof. It is important to test their range so you are confident they will work all the areas around the home and in the garden.

These Auto-dial SOS(speed-dial) SOS alarms are really phones that trigger a simple call via a button. An alternative maybe to use a simple mobile cellphone or cordless phone 95% of them will have speed-dial functionality, where they will either have a dedicated Speed-dial button or one of the numbered digits can have any contact's phone number added to them so simply long pressing thee will speed-dial a number like the telecare SOS Alarm.

My SOS Family Speed dial number can be added as a contact to any of these phones, By Speed-dialing My SOS Family SOS Number, the My SOS Family Automated Emergency alert system works lik , yet faster than a a call centre where an operator is involved.

PIR MOVEMENT DETECTOR SENSORS FOR THE ELDERLY

These are movement sensors, also called Passive Infra-red sensors (PIR sensors). These electronic sensors measure infra-red (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view.

Commonly used in burglar alarm systems to detect intruders these sensors have been adapted to sense movement with safety in mind. When movement is not detected for a given period e.g. no movement for 2 hours in the front room between 10am and 3pm, it will alert the call centre.

Although these sensors are helpful to a particular group of users, be prepared to maintain and adjust times of each room for different days and different seasons and changes in an individuals moods and situations, with the system triggering false alarms.

When they are triggered, a call center will be alerted , and one of the call center operators (dependent on how busy they are) will call the elderly person, if they do not answer, they will be unaware of what has happened , therefore they will then call a family member to check on the individual.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN THERE ARE 24/7 365 ROUND-THE-CLOCK MONITORING SERVICES LINKED TO ALARM PENDANTS?

Monitoring services simply connect the user to a call centre.

The call centre is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by shift workers. When they receive a call their system pulls up their customers details on a screen.

Depending on circumstances, they ask if the user if they need medical attention, if they require emergency services, they will connect the user to the emergency services and pass on any limited information they have, the majority of activations are non-medical or do not require emergency services like Fire, Police or Ambulance in these cases, either nothing will happen or emergency contacts list (provided when they signed up) are contacted, this is also the case if the call centre operator call not talk to the user , they cannot call emergency services without any information, therefore they can only contact emergency contacts.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MONITORING SERVICES / CALL CENTRES LINKED TO PERSONAL ALARM PENDANTS?

Whilst, all emergency SOS Alarm monitoring service providers say they are different than their competitors , some quoting their hardware having SIM cards incase the landline goes down, others will say they have the longest range devices, some will say they have the best call centre operators, who are ex-nurses, or have specialist training, whilst there may be a few people who are ex-nurses and have specialist training, the business model is about profitability and call centers will be staffed based on a general forecast of expected calls including through the night and the quality of staff, it's hard to increase staff numbers to handle calls if there is a big influx of calls as it take time to physically get to the centre, quality of staff will be related to the salary they are paid and culture of the business (not the PR).

The real key difference is if the monitoring service provides home-call out support, these services needs home respondents to be available to come to the home of the person who may have fallen or needs help.

Whilst this service is a premium cost, and it's impossible for a national provider to give this local service hence very few organisations provide this level of service, we at My SOS Family would recommend any service provider that provides a home call-out service with published response times.

Instead the vast majority of call centres (from our analysis 99% of providers) delegate a triggered alert by contacting emergency services if known or by calling nominated contacts on your behalf until someone answers.

Before signing up pay close attention to the terms of service otherwise users may be tied into a contract, paying for the hardware with a minimum term.


ALTERNATIVES TO CALL CENTER BASED SOS ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS

A Number of alternatives are available , for example the Apple Watch is a great alternative (but very expensive) and not ideal for all users, there are also many Apps like My SOS Family that will alert contacts, and we recommend that any user or family member look at these, ideally test them if they offer a no-obligation free trial like My SOS Family does. We would recommend finding a provider that works on many platforms for example, works with simple landlines or cell phones like the My SOS Family Speed-dial system, Works on Alexa Devices like My SOS Family Alexa Skill and also Apps that works with both Android Phones and iPhones.

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