Call handling system upgrade will enable Home Safeguard to offer an even better service with a wider range of telecare equipment

On Wednesday 28 November 2018 East Devon District Council’s Cabinet will decide whether to give the go ahead for investment in an upgrade to the council’s existing Home Safeguard call handling system, which will provide full digital capability, and much greater flexibility to meet the demands of customers, and contribute to the health and social care agenda.

Home Safeguard is the council’s emergency alarm service for private, sheltered and corporate customers. The service is staffed 24/7 and also carries out an out of office hours service for East Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council, plus lone working services for both authorities. Customers needing assistance simply press their pendant or pull a pull cord to call for help and the council’s trained operators ensure a suitable response. This service enables customers to remain in their home and live an independent life, but with the reassurance that help is only a press of a button away.

On many occasions, over the past 30 years of operation, Home Safeguard has saved lives by responding to customer emergencies quickly, calmly and professionally.

As Home Safeguard is operating as a business and fourth emergency service for customers, it is important that the council’s IT systems are kept up to date and East Devon is aware that technology in this field has moved forwards quite considerably in the past couple of years. A system upgrade will enable the council to achieve improved service resilience and the ability to connect telecare sensors such as movement monitors, pill dispensers etc, to the system.

The existing software and hardware used to provide the call monitoring service is over eight years old. This is at the limit of the expectation for server hardware and, as a result, there is now an increased risk of hardware failure. Given the nature of this service, any outages caused by hardware failure, no matter how brief, could have a significant impact on customers.

At this stage, figures for the increased costs are approximate. However, it is estimated that there would be an increase in software and support charges from £17,751 to £45,000 annually.

Cllr Jill Elson, East Devon’s portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, said:

The upgrade will enable us to offer a digital solution with the ability to offer a wider range of telecare equipment, and to expand the service. It will also enable us to remain competitive in the current market. It is vital that we continue to provide an outstanding service to the people who need it most and that we honour our existing contracts. We need to invest in newer and better technology, such as the Telecare Assistive technology, which GPs will be able to use and by doing so, enable more people to stay independent in their own homes.