OAPs to lose emergency alarms

First published in News

FRAIL pensioners living in older people’s homes in Hampshire are set to lose their emergency alarms as part of cost-cutting measures.

Elderly people who live in council sheltered accommodation can currently call wardens to their homes by pulling a cord or pressing a “panic” button.

Now, under £4m cutbacks, Hampshire County Council is replacing those alarms with a “telecare” pendant they can wear round their necks — but is slashing the number of people entitled to have one.

Only those deemed in the greatest need will receive one, meaning that hundreds of elderly people across the county could lose the ability to summon help.

The new system will contact a “monitoring centre” that uses state-of-the-art technology to detect if someone is in trouble.

It includes automatic fall alarms where the user does not need to press the button to trigger an alert, devices to discourage dementia sufferers from leaving the house at night, and sensors that can tell if a frail person is up, and active or not, in their home.

A nominated person such as a carer or family member would then be contacted.

Older people’s campaigners have condemned the move, saying it will take away peace of mind for isolated people in the community.

However, adult social care boss Cllr Liz Fairhurst insisted the new “telecare” system will offer more effective help to those who qualify for it.

She said: “Our priority has been, and always will be, to ensure people can access the right care and support.

“The current changes being made around the provision of community alarms are to ensure that the most vulnerable residents receive a quality service that best meets their needs.”

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