Leeds completes four-year telecare upgrade 

Infrastructure and equipment providing emergency telecare alarms and support upgraded from analogue to digital in £1.6m project begun in 2019. 

‘Telecare’ is the name given to continuous, automatic and remote monitoring systems that support vulnerable people in living independently. Sensors placed on ceilings, doors and walls around the home, or worn as a pendant by the service user. Such sensors can include flood and smoke detection, as well as alerting people to help in the event of a fall or other emergency. 

a city street filled with traffic and lights at night

Leeds City Centre at night, photo by Abbie Hartley

Leeds Tele Care Services, run by the city council, currently support almost 10,000 people, with 6,227 of them directly linked to the 24-hour ‘Alarm Receiving Centre’, and a further 3,343 provided with equipment to alert a carer or member of the family living in the same property as the service user that there is a problem. 

If a sensor in an individual’s home activates, an alert is automatically raised. Services users linked to the alarm receiving centre will then be swiftly contacted by staff. Often in such cases, all that’s wanted is some practical advice and reassurance – which can be provided.  

On other occasions, a personal visit or physical help may be needed. If so, response centre staff will arrange the appropriate support by contacting a family member, providing a visit from the mobile response service or, if necessary, contacting an emergency service. To help best support service users, the response centre holds relevant personal information about them and can identify exactly which sensor in the home activated. 

The service is much in demand. The alarm receiving centre responded to 537,451 alerts in the year 2022-23, with responses including 1,256 ambulance calls, 833 calls to the fire service to attend and 289 police visits. The mobile response team were involved in 3,236 cases in this period, and 78,557 phone calls were made to reassure the service user who had triggered the alarm.  

Importantly, Leeds Tele Care Services supports Yorkshire Ambulance Service by responding to some 75 non-injurious falls every month. This, of course, helps to ensure ambulances are free to respond to other emergencies in the city. 

The tech upgrade ensures this vital work can continue. As well as improving network functionality, it means that services will not be affected when analogue telephone services in the UK are switched off. That’s due to happen by 2025, with traditional phonelines and telecommunications infrastructure replaced by digital networks using internet protocols (IP). 

Over the past four years, more than 5,200 items of equipment have been upgraded to digital. Sensors now operate on a standalone basis using SIM technology, so are not directly connected to or affected by broadband or WiFi connections in the home. The infrastructure of the alarm receiving centre has also been comprehensively upgraded to ensure the fastest and most effective responses. 

Cllr Salma Arif, Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Active Lifestyles at Leeds City Council, says: ‘Leeds Tele Care Services provides a vital role in the city helping to support and keep safe some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. It is very pleasing that this essential upgrade of the equipment and infrastructure has been completed well ahead of time, and the service is now stronger and more effective then ever moving into the future. We look forward to seeing the service continue to grow, as part of our commitment to Leeds being a compassionate and age-friendly city supporting people to live independently at home or in a place of their choice.’ 

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