Choosing the right careline or lifeline service for your relatives can be a real headache. For many its the first time they may have come across this kind of technology and are unsure where to go. So with a quick search on Google you’re confronted with careline services in all shapes and sizes! The question is who do you choose?
When you search for a careline alarm provider online you will be presented with many results showing local authority careline services. These can provide a very good service but the costs can vary dramatically from one region to another. The main reason for this is that some councils will subsidise their careline provision such as in Manchester. However in other areas of the UK, Local Authorities have removed all subsidies all together such as in Glasgow. The results are careline costs have spiralled for users.
The same search will also show up a number of national providers such as AgeUK and Telecare24. These are the big players in the careline industry and are backed by leading charities or endorsed by well known medical experts. National providers tend to offer the best value for money as they are have far larger customer numbers and therefore a lower cost base.
However, we have received worrying reports in recent months of some careline providers setting up so called “national” services. When you scratch beneath the surface you find they are not who they appear to be. Some even offer to send “advisors” round to your home. You are more likely to find they are somewhat more like salespeople than advisors.
We have even seen evidence of some telecare providers who give the impression of being a national alarm provider online – who are in fact operating from their own private home. Hardly the kind of organisation you would want to entrust the welfare of your loved ones to!
The fact is anyone can set up a careline operation, so here’s our top tips for choosing a careline alarm provider you can have confidence in:
- Ensure the careline organisation is TSA accredited.
TSA accreditation ensures your loved ones will receive the best possible service. The telecare provider has to ensure calls are handled in certain ways and there are strict targets for response times etc.Check the actual company you purchase the service from is TSA accredited. Some providers state they are TSA members but this sometimes isn’t the case. In fact they are piggy backing on the TSA accreditation of the call centre they maybe sub-contracting the 24/7 service to. If you are unsure you can always ask for the TSA membership number and check with the TSA.
- Who is backing the service?
Its good to know a little about who is supporting the service. For example if the service is backed by a medical professional or a well established charity, the chances are you are going to receive good customer service levels. Endorsements or charities are in effect “brands” and will only associate themselves with organisations that provide a high level of customer service.
- Where the offices are located?
Check on the company’s website as to where they operate from – this maybe different from a registered office which is often an accountant’s office. You can Google the address and use Streetview to see where they are located. If the address shown is a residential location, chances are it’s an operation set up from someone’s home. Best avoided.
- Check the Company Registered Number
A quick check at Companies House will tell you how long they have been established. This will give you an indication of whether the claims of having thousands of customers are correct or not. If they have been set up recently, it’s likely they are just a small start up.
- Be wary of a home advisor visit
Some organisations offer a home visit to talk through the options. Be mindful when agreeing to this. We have had reports of some unscrupulous providers sending salespeople to vulnerable people’s homes and using techniques normally associated with dodgy double glazing salesmen! If it’s a charity or endorsed organisation offering a home visit you should be fine.