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Whether the person you care for lives with you, independently alone, or you look after them from a distance, there are helpful devices to use in the home that can help someone to regain some independence and give you more peace of mind.

 

Keeping safe, independent and secure

If the person you’re caring for has difficulty controlling household appliances, reaching for curtains or using doors, there are plenty of tech solutions to help. 

With these devices, they can manage their home environment more easily using apps, centralised controls or voice activated devices. 

 

Voice-activated devices and systems are systems that use voice commands to control appliances or electrical items in your house, such as your heating, lights, television or even to order a taxi. 

This might enable someone with restricted mobility or ability to control appliances more independently around the home. 

You can find them in:

  • online retailers/marketplaces 
  • independent product providers 
  • home or electrical stores.

 

 

For lighting, you can purchase smart switches and dimmers for lights that work alongside phone apps for flexible controls. For heating, you can get wireless thermostat control or thermostats controlled through phone apps. There are also motion sensor lights that are activated when someone gets up or enters a room. 

These devices can be helpful for people with mobility restrictions, who live independently or spend time alone in the house. It can give the person you care for control of their surroundings. 

Where you can find them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.
  • Energy providers.

 

 

Door control can help someone to leave and enter their house. Electronic door locks that require a code to open them can be used to keep someone safe in their home and can be used by trusted professionals as well. 

These can be used for people with restricted mobility or people who might wander. They can be used at night if you need to leave the house for work or don’t live with the person you care for. 

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.
  • Security product providers.

 

 

A door video system can enable someone to see who’s calling without opening the door, so that they don’t answer the door to unknown callers. 

This may be useful for people who may find it difficult to get to the door or for vulnerable people who may not want to answer to someone they don’t know.
 

Where to get this:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores. 
  • Security product providers.

 

 

Voice prompt systems use motion sensors to play back recorded messages reminding someone of important things, for example to take keys as they leave the house. 

These can be used to inspire confidence and encourage independence if someone has trouble remembering essential things. 

Where to get them: 

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.

 

 

Smart appliances can include smart ovens, fridges, washing machines and driers, and even microwaves or a coffee maker. They can be controlled via an app on your phone or tablet.

Anyone who has restricted mobility or trouble using home appliances could benefit from smart controls.

Where to get them:

  • Online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.

 

 

Electric shutters, rollers and curtains could help anyone who has restricted mobility or difficulty with reaching curtains or blinds.

Where to get them:

  • Online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.

 

 

The phone was easy to set up and now Mum can contact me using the telephone which she was unable to do using her old conventional phone."

You can get smartphones or specially designed telephones that can be programmed only with essential numbers or photographs of known people instead of numbers.

These can be useful for people who have problems using small telephone buttons, or trouble remembering numbers or people’s names.

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.

 



Making sure someone is okay from a distance 

When you can’t be with the person you care for, it can be stressful worrying about whether they are okay. There are devices that can be used from a distance to reassure you that they are safe at home. If something does go wrong, systems can send alerts to carers or to 24-hour monitoring and response centres. Below, we describe some of the different types and what they can do.

 

 

These devices are mounted to the wall of the home and monitor activity. They can tell you whether someone is up and active, what room they are in and if someone else has entered the property. 

A PIR detector can be useful if you work outside the home or don’t live with the person you are caring for. It can be used to monitor people who live alone. 

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Home or electrical stores. 
  • Energy providers. 
  • Security product providers. 

 

 

A fall detector is a sensor that the person wears. This then sends an alert if the person falls. You or a 24-hour monitoring and response centre could be notified if someone has fallen as soon as it happens. 

A fall detector can be useful for people who are living independently. It can also be helpful if you spend periods of time away from the person you care for. The detector will notify you with an alert as soon as the fall takes place, so the person can get help immediately. 

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers.

 

 

Property exit sensors are mounted to doors and alert you if someone passes the sensor and has left the property. GPS trackers are a guidance device that the person wears all the time enabling you to track their movements on an app. 

They are useful for people who may be confused or have memory problems, which may cause them to wander from their home and get lost. It can give carers reassurance to know they can find the person they care for if they go missing. 

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Home or electrical stores. 
  • Security product providers. 

 

 

These devices can alert a carer or neighbour if there is a fire, gas leak or flood in the home of a vulnerable person. 

They can be useful for people who may not otherwise be able to react to an emergency alarm and are living independently or spending long periods of time alone in the home. 

Where to get them: 

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Home or electrical stores. 
  • Energy providers. 

 

 

Alarm buttons can be placed near the front door or beside the bed to be used in the event of a break-in or if someone threatening approaches the front door.

They are useful for people who spend long periods alone in the home or live independently. They can also give carers and those being cared for reassurance that help is only the press of a button away.

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.
  • Security product providers.

 

 

These usually use passive infrared detectors (PIRs), plus smart plugs that can monitor the use of household appliances and send an alert when, for example, the kettle has not been used at the usual time.

This can be useful for carers spending periods of time away from the person they are caring for. It can give reassurance to be notified of someone’s activities and, if they are not following their usual routine, you can check they are okay.

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.
  • Home or electrical stores.
  • Energy providers.
  • Security product providers.

 

 

Pressure and proximity sensors can indicate whether someone has fallen, lost or suffering an emergency. 

They can be used by people who are vulnerable to wandering, for whom incontinence is an issue or by people at risk of medical emergencies. 

Where to get them: 

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Home or electrical stores.

 

 

Using a pendant button, brooch, watch or mobile phone app, the user can press for help if they need assistance. These can contact a response centre or a carer directly. 

They can be used by people who spend long periods in the home or live alone. They can also be useful for people who may have trouble getting around, or who are likely to fall and need assistance or experience a health emergency.
 

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces).
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces.
  • Independent product providers.

 

Do you have broadband or a traditional landline?

If you have already switched to a digital provider, before purchasing a personal alarm service, check with the supplier if they offer one that is compatible with a broadband-based service in the first instance.

If you already have a personal alarm service, check with your provider that they are making arrangements to upgrade to a digital phone service if yours still runs over a traditional phone line.  

 

 

Motion sensors fixed to doors and windows can send an alert if someone enters/exits doors and/or windows. They can be attached to cupboards, a fridge door or interior doors to monitor daily use and send an alert when motion is not detected during a certain time period or throughout the day. 

Door and window sensors can be useful for people who spend periods of time alone or live independently to detect if someone has broken into the property, or to keep track if the person is likely to wander and get lost or to ensure that someone has returned home safely. 

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Home or electrical stores. 
  • Energy providers. 
  • Security product providers. 

 

 

Cameras around the home can help you keep an eye on the person you care for. They can be used in systems alongside motion sensors. 

They can be useful for people who spend periods of time alone in the home or those with restricted mobility who may need assistance even if you are in the house. 

Where to get them: 

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Home or electrical stores. 
  • Security product providers. 

 

Health checks

There are monitoring devices that can help you to keep track of someone's health more effectively. These benefit both you and the person you care for by helping to manage a condition, cutting down a doctor’s visits and avoiding hospital stays. It also helps you to monitor their health more continuously, which can prevent health problems from getting worse or someone needing to go into hospital. 

 

Remote healthcare and advice

Increasingly, clinical services are being conducted remotely. This means that treatments or advice can be given via telephone, email or video sessions online, from home. This has benefits for the patient as well as saving time for you.

Benefits for patients: 

  • Fewer visits to clinicians. 
  • Reduced travel times. 
  • More intensive rehabilitation, with potentially better outcomes. 
  • Access to treatment that might not otherwise be available, for example speech and language therapists for stroke patients, which might not be available for the full length of recovery. 

Benefits for carers: 

  • Fewer clinician visits. 
  • Less time taken out of work. 
  • There are a range of remote healthcare options available. 

 

These solutions can include stand-alone devices, things the cared-for person wears or implantable devices. These can also be connected to control units (hubs) or apps that store health data. 

There are devices to measure: 

  • blood pressure (sphygmomanometers) 
  • blood oxygen levels (pulse oximeters) 
  • blood glucose 
  • lung capacity or flexibility (spirometers) 
  • heart rate 
  • sleep patterns. 

There are also implantable devices to measure heart function and blood glucose. As well as specialised home scales for keeping weight on target. 

Vital signs monitoring devices can help people with ongoing health problems that would benefit from regular monitoring.
 

Where to get them:

You may be able to get some of these through your local authority or NHS, but they are also available to buy privately from: 

  • specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces)
  • other online retailers/marketplaces 
  • independent product providers
  • home or electrical stores 
  • pharmacies.

 

 

Your GP may offer advice through a remote or online consultation cutting down on visits to the surgery. They may also offer access to your summary health record. Some pharmacies offer repeat prescription services remotely (by phone or online). 

This is for anyone with a health condition or for those who find it difficult to leave the house. 

Some NHS practices offer this, and there are other private providers such as Babylon. 

 

 

For some mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, there is now online support and counselling available delivered by trained professionals. Some of this support can be accessed 24-hours a day. There are also programmes that take you through an online therapy course. 

Online support can be helpful for people with mental health problems who don’t have access to face-to-face therapies or who may refuse or are unable to access face-to-face support. 

Some NHS practices or local authorities may offer services such as the Big White Wall or you can subscribe to these privately. There are also qualified counsellors offering online support. 

 

 

There are online programmes that can support speech therapy or rehabilitation. 

These can be useful for working with children with speech and language impairment or people trying to regain their language skills, who may have had some face-to-face speech and language therapy but may not have completed their recovery or for those where the service is unavailable in their local area. 

Access is via a referral from a health or educational professional. 

 

 

This uses special therapeutic equipment in your own home that sends signals to the therapist who runs a class remotely from another location. 

It can be useful for anyone who needs to do specialised fitness work to strengthen their muscles but perhaps can’t easily attend an external session or they are not available. 

This service is offered through some NHS localities, but there are also private providers. 

 

 

This is remote advice and guidance that can be used to secure a desired behaviour change, for example help to stop smoking. It can also be used to help deal with the impact of having a long-term condition or a new diagnosis. 

This is for anyone who needs help to bring about changes in their behaviour or who may need some additional support dealing with their condition. 

Telecoaching is available through some NHS localities, but there are also private providers. 

 

 

Mobile apps can help manage health and care:

  • There are apps that can train users to get rid of physical symptoms, such as severe pain.
  • There are also pain management apps that help users track their pain and other symptoms, such as stress and fatigue.
  • There are apps that can help individuals with conditions such as autism, anxiety, mild or moderate mental illness, or recovering from brain injuries.
  • There are also apps that can help families and carers share and coordinate the care around someone more easily.

These apps can be useful for people who want to manage their physical or mental health or who need help with managing care or caring.

They are downloadable to your smartphone or tablet and are also available as web apps.

 

 

These types of games can help people to stop smoking, treat depression or lose weight.

They are aimed at people who would like to change their behaviour or who need help to manage mental health problems.

You can download games to your smartphone or tablet, and many are also available as web apps.

 

 

It can be so hard to get a doctor’s appointment at a time that suits and very often the question you want to ask turns out to be really simple. NHS.UK was brilliant at helping to understand whether Mum’s symptoms needed following up." 

You can find health information from specialist websites, such as NHS.UK, online patient information services or symptom checkers. 

This is useful for people who do not necessarily need a doctor’s appointment, are unsure if their symptoms are cause for concern or find it difficult to get to a doctor’s appointment. 

The NHS has online health information and symptoms checkers, but there are a growing number of private providers offering this service for free (Babylon Health, Boots, Patient Information Forum). 

 

Medication management

If you’re caring for someone who takes medication, managing what they take can be stressful, especially if you’re not always around to make sure they take it and take the right dose at the right time. There are devices that can help you and give you reassurance when you can’t be there. Watch our video below for some tips on managing someone's health and medication needs. 

 

There are various devices that can help remind someone to take their medication. They can also issue the correct dosage at the right time. Many modern devices have safety locks to prevent anyone taking more than the correct dosage. Alerts can be sent to you (and other contacts) when the medication has not been taken or if the device needs a new battery. 

Medication management devices are for people who take medication regularly and especially for those who may forget to take their medication at the right time. 

Where to get them:

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Pharmacies. 

 

Technology to strengthen skills and support recovery

This type of technology can help someone stay independent for longer by helping them to strengthen their skills or physical health. 

 

Hearing aids are for people with impaired hearing, and fit to the ear to increase the ability to hear. 

Where to get them: 

  • Specialist health and care product providers (including online retailers/marketplaces). 
  • Other online retailers/marketplaces. 
  • Independent product providers. 
  • Home or electrical stores. 
  • Pharmacies. 

 

 

Brain training apps are downloadable applications that you can run on a phone or tablet. You can play games and complete puzzles to test various mental skills with the aim of improving memory and maintaining mental agility. 

Anyone can play these, but they may be especially beneficial for older people with dementia. 

They can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet and are also available as web apps. 

 

 

These applications can give someone exercise routines and keep track of their progress. They can help someone build strength, durability and improve muscle tone. 

They can be helpful for people who can find it difficult to get regular exercise and who would benefit from a fitness structure and routine. 

They are available to download on a smartphone or tablet and are also available as web apps. 

 

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