In the private market, the supply of careline services such as Telecare24 has increased at an unprecedented rate. It is estimated that around 50% of careline service users now source their services from the private sector.
Why do People Choose Private Providers Over a Local Authority Service?
Local authority services have the following disadvantages:
1. Lack of Investment
When the budgets are tight, local careline services come under more pressure. Local authorities are reluctant to invest in these services for their residents. At Telecare24, we are regularly contacted by residents of local authorities. They often use equipment that is over ten years old, which is clearly unacceptable.
Providing a careline service is complex and costly. So, some local lifeline services are under increasing pressure to become cost neutral. The reality is that many careline services run by local authorities actually run at a loss.
As a result, many finance departments question the feasibility of providing such services to residents, as they are not legally required to do so.
The Good Governance Review of Telecare report highlighted the huge variation in investment in careline and telecare services across the UK. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) transfers the majority of its spending (£152.6 billion in 2022–2023) to NHS England and NHS Improvement which use it to deliver health services.
The costs of operating a round-the-clock service are significant. Hiring appropriately trained staff, staffing a round-the-clock control centre, and providing relatively expensive equipment to residents for a relatively small monthly fee all involve huge costs.
To break even or to make a modest profit, an authority would require around 10,000 users. For many counties, this is not possible as they operate in a relatively small geographical area. With only a limited number of people in the catchment area that are demographically eligible and have a need for a telecare service.
2. Eligibility Criteria
Budgetary constraints limit the number of people local governments can subsidise for careline services. As a result, to save money, local governments have raised eligibility criteria, leading many clients to look to the private market for a careline service because the cost is too high for their community.
3. Rising Charges
A direct result of the lack of investment is that many local authorities are either outsourcing their service or significantly increasing the monthly charge they pass onto residents. Many residents are now paying more than £20 per month for a care service they used for free or at a reduced rate.
In our view, this is shortsighted, as many reports show that county councils can save literally millions of pounds a year in healthcare costs by investing in a careline and Telecare services.
The Numbers Game
It’s a different story for private companies operating across the UK. Basically, it’s a numbers game. For operators like Telecare24, our reach across the country means that we can offer our services to a much larger number of customers, as we are not restricted by county boundaries.
With a larger customer base, the forces of economics can deliver a fully TSA accredited service more efficiently than a local authority can. As a result, we can keep prices permanently low while providing the leading long-term careline service in the country.
More and more of us are living longer and want to remain independent at home. Using a careline service allows us to enjoy the comforts of home for as long as possible. With the increase of careline services in the private sector, people now have a choice.
Many people find it reassuring to have their careline provider nearby, but more and more people are turning to the private sector for this important service. The Future of Who Uses Telecare report stated, “The private market is playing a significant role in the take-up of Telecare services”. Something that is undeniably on the rise.
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