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The role of the Fire Service in Telecare

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) is making sure vulnerable and isolated people can use Telecare to keep their independence. 

Telecare equipment supports people to live safely and independently at home. Types of Telecare sensors include fall detectors, bed and chair sensors, movement sensors, smoke and heat detectors, and medication prompting devices. The equipment is linked to a 24 hour monitoring centre, where a trained operator will manage an appropriate response as required.

In order to benefit from Telecare services, users need to provide the details of two people who can be called upon to respond to them in an emergency. This meant that some vulnerable people were not able to benefit and, at worst, may have been faced with no option but to be placed in short or long term residential care.

Under this new service, on-call firefighters provide that response, as well as providing a valuable back-up when nominated responders are not available. In turn, this reduces demand on other emergency services who would otherwise be called out.

Through this new initiative, retained GFRS officers can respond to Telecare alarm calls and are at present responders for around 500 people (nearly a quarter of all Telecare users) throughout the county. They are responding to a wide variety of issues, including dementia wandering; faulty Telecare and other equipment; supported self-assessment; and are working alongside the voluntary sector in supported hospital discharge. Every contact results in a “Safe and Well” visit.

The initial pilot in the North Cotswolds enabled 28 people to return home or remain in their own homes. The alternative for these people would have been either a short or long term placement in a care home. A conservative assumption for these costs would be £360,100 (full year effect).

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