The Romsey Advertiser has today reported that Hampshire County Council is drastically cutting the number of elderly people that qualify for a free careline service. The telecare service will only be provided to those in greatest need after an assessment. The cutbacks are part of a scheme to save £4 million at the council which has drawn much criticism from residents and campaigners.
Hampshire County Council is facing further budget cuts this financial year.
Unfortunately, the situation with Hampshire County Council is not new and is a growing trend with Councils and Local Authorities across the UK. As we have highlighted in this blog previously, many councils are withdrawing their careline services, increasing their prices (as with Glasgow) or making it harder to qualify for the service. The sad fact is that this leaves many elderly people feeling vulnerable and removes the reassurance such a service gives the users family.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we see so many families now opting to use a careline service from a private company rather than a service in the public sector for their elderly relatives.
The problem that many Local Authorities like Hampshire County Council face is that they operate in a relatively small geographical area, with only a finite number of people in the catchment area that are the right demographic and who have a requirement for a telecare service.
This presents Local Authorities with a huge problem. The costs of operating a 24/7 service are significant, with huge amounts involved in employing suitably trained operators, manning a 24/7 control centre and supplying relatively expensive equipment to residents for a moderately small monthly fee. To break even or to make a modest profit, an Authority would require around 10,000 users. For many Counties, this is not possible.
Many Authorities operate their emergency pendant alarm service at a loss; however, with further cutbacks across the board due this financial year, many councils are looking at their telecare service to be cost neutral as a minimum. When the bean counters get involved, the view is often taken that a Local Authorities telecare service is draining money rather than making money. Hence we see the kind of changes notified today regarding Hampshire County Council and their emergency alarm service for the elderly.
It’s a different story for private companies who operate across the UK. Essentially it’s a numbers game. For operators such as Telecare24, our reach across the country means that we can provide our service to a much larger number of clients, we are not restricted by County boundaries. With a larger client base, the forces of economics mean that we can provide a fully TSA accredited service far more efficiently than a Local Authority can. This means we can keep our price plans permanently low but equally provide the leading careline service in the country.
The next 12-24 months will doubt see more Local Authorities across the country adopt the same position as Hampshire County Council.