We’re delighted to see the launch of the national Silver Line service, thanks to Esther Rantzen and a £5m grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
The concept is exactly where health and social care is heading and it’s excellent that Esther Rantzen has been be to help raise the profile of home-based needs and services.
Last year, the Campaign to End Loneliness estimated that more than a million people in the UK feel trapped in their homes and around five million older people consider television their main form of company. The Department of Health has stated that loneliness causes serious physical and mental damage and with more than half of the UK’s over-75s living alone and in the direct firing line of this diagnosis, this doesn’t bode well for our society.
Silver Line provides a free 24-hour dedicated helpline for older people across the UK has been launched aiming to combat loneliness in the over-65s, by providing friendship, information and advice through calls to trained volunteers.
This high profile approach to providing social care to people in their homes supports the hard work the technology and health sectors are doing to bring medical and social care into the 21st century, through Telecare.
Telecare – caring for our future
The concept of Telecare, using technology to help staff monitor a patient’s condition at home is not overly new, but appears slow to be adopted. The aim is to provide people with the option of remaining in their homes, under the caring and watchful eye of medical and social practitioners, helping people to manage their health independently and give people with long-term conditions control over their own care.
By bringing technology into health and social care, people can retain their sense of liberty but still know their health is being monitored.
The NHS has backed the world’s largest trial of Telecare, The Whole System Demonstrator trial, which followed the progress of 1,500 people with three long-term conditions in three different parts of England.
Preliminary results were excellent, with the first published results last year showing that patients using Telehealth were 20% less likely to be admitted to hospital and 45% less likely to die than their counterparts in the control group. There are other human and psychological impacts and effects we mustn’t lose sight of, but with studies carried out so far, it seems this is very much the way to go.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is fully supportive of movements in the direction of Telecare and Telehealth, with a target of three million people benefiting from Telehealth by 2017. This will make England the leading centre for Telehealth outside the US.