There is now a wide range of equipment available to people who might otherwise be at risk when living alone or being left for a few hours. You may hear health and social care professionals refer to this equipment as assistive technology, telecare or telehealth.
What is assistive technology?
Assistive technology is an umbrella term used to describe any device or system that uses technology to help you carry out tasks you would otherwise:
- be unable to do at all
- would struggle to do
- would not be able to do safely
Assistive technology ranges from very simple things, like calendar clocks and touch lamps to in-home sensors, video entry systems and high-tech satellite navigation systems to locate someone with dementia who has gone missing.
Personal movement detectors can also monitor activity and inactivity, e.g. detect if someone has got out of bed or a chair and not returned (indicating a possible fall).
Assistive technology can support adults with physical and sensory disabilities to live independently, and minimises the risks to older people living in their own homes, including those with dementia.
How can assistive technology help you?
Assistive technology might help you:
- have fallen in your home
- have had a blackout, a heart attack or a stroke
- have been in hospital recently
- live alone or with someone who is also frail or in poor health
- don’t want your family to worry about you
- sometimes get muddled or forgetful
- are looking after someone else
- take regular medication
How do I find out more?
Many people now purchase their own products, particularly community alarm systems (with telecare systems, be certain to make sure they are compatible with your current system).
If you have concerns about your safety at home and want to know how technology could help you, contact your local council’s social services department and ask for a needs assessment.
VAT relief on equipment
If you have a long-term condition or disability, you may not have to pay VAT on telecare equipment. For more information and a list of qualifying products and services, visit the Inland Revenue website or call the helpline on 0300 200 3700.