National Recognition for West Lothian's Award-Winning Care Scheme

From: Tunstall
Published: Tue Apr 12 2005

West Lothian Council has been awarded first prize for the best use of IT in primary and community care at the 2005 Healthcare IT Effectiveness Awards. The prestigious accolade is recognition of the success of West Lothian's Home Safety Service and the positive impact of telecare solutions on primary and community care systems.

Judges praised the service for successfully integrating telecare solutions with existing service provision to promote independent living as a real, cost-effective alternative to institutional care.

Recognised as one of the most advanced social healthcare projects in Europe, the Home Safety Service has helped West Lothian to achieve the lowest proportion of older people blocking beds in Scotland. The mean duration of length of stay in hospital by a patient assessed as being ready to move is 9 days as opposed to the Scottish average of 57 days.

The judges commented: "This is a first class example of how assistive technology can be used to make caring for older people in the 21st century brighter for everyone. This project's vision and scope reshaped the models of care to promote independent living, prevent hospital admissions and reduce delayed discharges in West Lothian.

"The team knew what they wanted and faced the barriers and obstacles for change wholeheartedly to make this service work. There are huge lessons to be learned from this project team and their partners."

The Home Safety Service has saved lives in cases of fire, flood and serious falls. As a direct result, West Lothian is set to expand the initiative to a further 800 homes, helping residents over 60 to live independently in their own home with the help and reassurance they need thanks to pioneering telecare technology.

In the interim report from the University of Stirling on Smart Technology, one West Lothian resident said: "Since January I would say it's saved my life three times. One time I accidentally left a pan on the stove and a fire started in the kitchen, and another time I had a nasty fall. The Lifeline detected the fire and the fall and sent out help for me. I wouldn't be here today without it."

The telecare solutions are supplied by Tunstall - a world leading provider of personal and home reassurance telecare solutions - which include a Lifeline home unit and a range of sensors to detect inactivity, intruders, falls, smoke, flooding or extremes in temperature - allow users to remain independent, safe in the knowledge that should an incident occur help will be available. Upon detection of a dangerous situation or a press of the alarm button, the home unit immediately raises a call to Careline, West Lothian Council's response centre, where trained operators know instantly what the problem is and can speak to the user through the home unit to ascertain the most appropriate action whether it be calling a family member or arranging for a member of the mobile response team to visit.

West Lothian was also placed second in the overall award for Best Use of IT in the Health Service, recognition of the pioneering efforts made by the council to promote independent living and advanced levels of care, and a strong message that similar telecare developments could improve health and social care throughout the UK.

West Lothian Council's director of community and support services, David Kelly, said: "The council is delighted to pick up such a prestigious award against many other excellent contributors.

"The most important aspect of this achievement, however, is that a mix of technology and personal care has allowed many vulnerable clients to live in their own homes and enjoy a good quality of life for much longer than has otherwise been the case."

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