The last two years have seen unparalleled increase in the range of careline services such as TeleCare24 in the private market. Its suggested around 50% of careline users now source their service from the private sector. Today we are asking why people are now choosing these providers over a Local Authority service.
Lack of Investment
Budget constraints within Local Authorities has meant that local careline services are really under pressure, with councils reluctant to invest in these services for their local residents. Here at TeleCare24, we regularly get contacted by residents of local councils using equipment well over a decade old, something which is clearly unacceptable.
Due to the complexities and costs of providing a careline service, some local lifeline services are increasingly under pressure to become cost neutral. The reality is, many careline services run by local councils actually run at a loss. As a result, many finance departments are beginning to question the feasibility of running such services for local residents as it’s not a legal requirement for them to do so. The Strategic Society in their report, The Future of Who Uses Telecare, stated, “Availability of Telecare through Local Authorities can depend on local political and policy decisions to invest in the provision of Telecare services.”
The Good Governance Telecare Audit report recently highlighted the huge disparity across the UK in terms of investment in careline and Telecare services. For example, the NHS set aside £648 million for 2011/12 to support social services, of which Telecare plays an important role. Of this fund, only 4%, just £28 million, went towards funding local careline services.
Budget constraints impact on whom Local Councils can subsidise careline services to. Therefore, in order to save money, many Local Authorities have raised the criteria for eligibility, resulting in many clients looking into the private market for a careline service as the cost from their local council is cost prohibitive.
A direct implication of the lack of investment results in many Local Authorities either outsourcing their service or significantly raising the monthly charge they pass onto residents. Many residents find themselves now having to pay in excess of £20 a month for a careline service they used to get for free or at a reduced rate. In our view, this is short sighted, as many reports show that investing in careline and Telecare provision can actually save District Councils literally millions of pounds a year in health care costs.
We have highlighted a few Local Authority charges below to give you some idea of the rising monthly cost of obtaining a careline service from a Local Council.
Bolton Council: £22.10
South Somerset Council: £19.44
Southampton City Council: £18.20
Ealing Council: £17.42
Prices correct at time of publishing and maybe subject to change.
By comparison, private careline alarm providers such as TeleCare24 can provide a 24/7 careline service to the exacting standards of the TSA (Telecare Service Association) for significantly less. Many private suppliers, like TeleCare24, provide the service across the UK resulting in economies of scale with savings passed onto users.
More of us are living longer and want to remain independent at home. For many, simply having a careline service means they can enjoy the comforts of their own home for far longer. With the explosion of careline services in the private sector, people now have a choice, something we all welcome. Many people still feel a sense of reassurance by having their careline provider locally, whilst a growing number of people are turning to the private sector to provide this vital service. The Future of Who Uses Telecare report stated that “the private market is playing a significant role in the take up of Telecare services”, something that is surely set to continue.