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Carers missing out on 'transformative' telecare

20 September 2012

Carers UK urges action to tackle barriers to families accessing telecare benefits 

New research from Carers UK has shown that, despite huge potential benefits of using telecare and telehealth, families caring for ill, frail and disabled loved ones are still facing barriers to accessing the services.

The research report, based on a survey of over 4,200 carers, showed that, of those not currently using telecare:

  • 62% were unaware of the technology available to help with caring. 

Of those who were aware of the services but not using them:

  • A quarter would like to but did not know where to access it. 
  • Almost a third (30%) had never been offered it.

This was despite clear benefits identified by the research. Almost two thirds (61%) of carers using the services  said that they had been given peace of mind by telecare/telehealth systems. 

With other research showing that 9 out of 10 carers find their mental health is compromised by the stresses of caring,  reducing carers’ fear that the worst could happen in their absence also offered real opportunities for carers.  One in eight (12%) of carers surveyed using telecare/telehealth said that the technology had helped them stay in or return to work.

The sensor, alerts or health monitoring systems meant that they knew they or a monitoring centre would be alerted if anything happened to the person they care for. Telecare services can also give carers more confidence to leave the house, go shopping or even just to be in another room from the person they cared for – reducing their constant worry. Yet despite the benefits, estimates indicate that takeup of telecare remains relatively low . 

Carers UK Chief Executive Heléna Herklots said: ‘Many carers live in constant worry about the people they care for which can prevent them from sleeping, being able to get out of the house or stay in work. Telecare and telehealth can play a transformative role in reducing carer stress and give them the peace of mind to take time for themselves, socialise or even enable them to work alongside caring. Yet a lack of advice, information and awareness about how to access telecare and telehealth mean that these potential benefits are not being realised for many.’

Recent research has also pointed to the potential cost savings as telecare and telehealth act to prevent falls and health crises – reducing admissions to hospital and residential care. With an estimated saving to the state of £1,000 per user of telecare the total savings nationally of greater uptake could be higher than £1 billion a year . 

To increase takeup, Carers UK has called for a co-ordinated action from providers, Government and local councils to ensure that advice and information on technology to help families to care becomes normal practice for health and social care staff. 

- ENDS -

Contact:
For spokespeople and additional statistics on carers, contact:
Steve McIntosh, Carers UK Tel: 0207 378 4937 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For case studies contact:
Vaughan Andrewartha, Votive Communications Ltd Tel: 020 7353 9277 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Notes:
1. The full research report Carers and Telecare can be downloaded at www.carersuk.org/professionals/resources/research-library
2. Carers and Telecare was based on State of Caring, a survey of over 4,200 carers which closed in July 2011, 705 of which were using telecare or telehealth services. For further details of the State of Caring results, download Facts about Carers 2012 from www.carersuk.org/professionals/resources/briefings 
3. This research was supported by Tunstall Healthcare and is part of an ongoing partnership between Carers UK and Tunstall Healthcare. 
4. Recent analysis from the Good Governance Institute, Care and support at home: An audit of telecare services in England, has shown that only £28 million of the additional £648 million allocated to local authorities to support social care services went towards funding telecare services, with 43% of PCTs seeing no investment in telecare for their area.

 

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