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Carers UK Believes Telecare is Key to the Future of Social Care

06 September 2007

Leading UK charity outlines how telecare technology can radically transform and improve the lives of our six million carers, and those they care for.

6 September, 2007 – Carers UK is calling on the Government to make telecare technology an integral element of the National Carers Strategy, in order to provide better support and radically improve the lives of the UK's six million carers.

The UK charity believes telecare has the potential to transform lives for the better – not only of the carers but also of the people they care for – by increasing independence, enhancing quality of life and enabling carers to take up employment.

Telecare technology consists of a range of sensors which monitor risks and environmental conditions around the home, automatically raising an alert to carers if assistance is required, ensuring help is always on hand if needed, but also empowering the carer with greater independence and freedom.

At today's New Horizons Telecare Conference in London – organised by Carers UK - keynote speakers from the Department of Health and leading UK charities will outline how telecare can support families, promote employment and deliver tangible benefits for users and their carers.

Imelda Redmond, chief executive at Carers UK said: "We need creative and innovative solutions that fit carers' lives, and telecare has the potential to do this. It's a win-win situation - the user gets increased control and independence, and the carer benefits from more freedom and is able to make more choices about their life."

To support the work it does across the UK, the charity has partnered with leading telecare provider Tunstall to produce a new guide Support for Carers: solutions for independent living, which offers support, practical advice and real-life examples of how telecare can deliver a significant improvement in the quality of life of carers and users, by providing a support network that promotes health, independence and well-being within the home.

James Buckley, CEO at Tunstall said: "In the UK, one in eight people currently provide support to relatives or friends with illnesses, long-term needs and learning or physical disabilities. Over the next 40 years the figure is likely to double, and with the lack of formal carers available, the pressure on relatives and friends to become carers is set to dramatically increase.

Everyone can relate to the incredible contribution that carers make to our society. Carers today need support, and we believe telecare can go a long way to relieving stress and providing peace of mind, independence and dignity to carers, and those they care for."

An example of the role telecare can have in supporting carers is that of Lucy, who cares for her mum Val, who has early onset dementia with rapid deterioration of memory. Due to her memory problems, Val wasn't taking her medication correctly, either forgetting to take it or, taking too much. Lucy was so concerned she started to hand deliver all Val's medication, as well as taking her to the hospital on a weekly basis due to fluctuations in her condition.

Telecare has enabled Val and Lucy to manage these issues. A medication dispenser, linked to a Lifeline home unit ensure Val takes the correct medication at the correct time, alerting Lucy and the monitoring centre if her tablets have not been taken.

This has not only given Val increased independence, it has also stabilised her condition and now she only needs monthly hospital visits. It has given Lucy the freedom to go on holiday for the first time in many years, with the reassurance that her mum's well-being is being effectively managed.

Lucy said: "It's a big weight off my mind, knowing Mum will take her medication at the right time. If the system was taken away now, it would be very hard for us."

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