£12m awarded to three home telecare sites

  • 24 May 2007

Teams in Kent, Newham and Cornwall have been awarded £12m to look at how best home telecare can be implemented.

The areas will form the Whole System Demonstrator pilots promised by the white paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say, and will be the biggest ever pilot of telecare and telehealth in the UK , covering a population of one million. The demonstrators will test how assistive technology can help to deliver the government’s aim of integrated health and social care.

The three sites, chosen from a shortlist of primary care trusts that expressed an interest in the project, were announced by health secretary, Patricia Hewitt.

The money will be allocated for 2007-08 to support the pilot sites locally and provide project management and implementation support. An independent evaluation will be commissioned by the Department of Health through its policy research programme.

The sites will use telecare to help older people and those with a variety of long term medical conditions to lead more independent lives. Specifically, they will try to help reduce the number of prescriptions dispensed; numbers admitted to residential care and nursing homes; emergency hospital bed days and admissions and A&E attendances.

A variety of approaches will be tested. Telehealth monitoring will be used to help people with long term conditions by giving them home monitoring devices for blood glucose or blood pressure and providing links to telemonitoring services which provide support and help.

Telecare devices will be used to help older or disabled people maintain their independence. These work via sensors in the home which perform simple tasks such as switching off the lights and also raise the alarm if, for example, a person does not return to bed after getting up in the night.

Hewitt said: “Improving patient care with new scientific advances and innovation is vital if the NHS is to continue to offer the very best services. New gadgets aren’t just about specialist innovations in hospitals – it is about using innovation in the frontline of the NHS to help patients manage their conditions better themselves.

“Remote devices mean greater choice and independence for patients, with more people able to monitor and look after their own health.”

In Kent, the area with the largest concentration of telehealth users in the UK the County Council plans to work with West Kent and Eastern and Coastal Kent PCT to deliver telehealth and telecare initiatives to 2500 people.

A full evaluation of the benefits and savings will be carried out as part of the pilot which will last until June 2009.

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