Falkirk Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to go live with an end-to-end digital telecare service. Working alongside Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), the council has safeguarded its Mobile Emergency Care Service (MECS), which currently helps 4,000 vulnerable people live independently at home.
Traditionally, the MECS alarm system would connect to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) via a telephone line. If a service user needed assistance, a personal alarm or sensor in their home would raise the alarm. Help would then be sent.
But operational and functional issues were on the rise because analogue systems were no longer being maintained by network providers.
In 2017 the project team started working with the Council’s ICT Team, Larbert-based social enterprise Haven Enterprise, and alarm provider Doro Care, to replace thousands of analogue alarm systems in people’s homes with pre-programmed digital-ready ones. In March last year, 4000 had been installed.
At the same time, the team worked with Chubb Systems to develop and install a digital ARC that would provide call handlers with immediate and secure information on each alarm call while also continuously checking connections with alarm devices, instantly detecting and responding to a problem if one occurs.
"Installing digital-ready alarm systems means we can continue to offer our current telecare service while migrating MECS users to an end-to-end digital telecare service. We hope that transition will be complete by the end of this year," said Pauline Waddell, MECS Team Manager at Falkirk Council. "We'll then look to build on our digital ambitions, offering new choices and services that will help service users feel safer and ultimately allow them to lead independent lives for as long as possible.
The service is now digitally-enabled end-to-end, providing users with personal and home alarms that alert a control centre when they fall or are in difficulty.
Falkirk is the first Scottish council to make its telecare service digital, four years before telecoms providers switch off all analogue lines in the UK, and has been awarded the Gold Level 1 Digital Telecare Implementation Award by Scottish Local Government.
“Receiving the award is a significant achievement and robustly demonstrates the overall functionality and effectiveness of Falkirk Council and Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership’s digital telecare solution,” said Martyn Wallace, Chief Digital Officer for the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government, and the Senior Responsible Officer of Digital Telecare in Scotland. “This enables them to confidently progress further on their journey and continue to share their learnings with other telecare service providers as leaders in the field.”
The Analogue to Digital Telecare project is one of 23 'Council of the Future' projects that aim to modernise and improve services and help deliver on Falkirk Council’s priorities of communities, enterprise and innovation.
“Becoming the first council in Scotland to not only go live with an end-to-end digital telecare offering, but also achieve recognition for it, is testament to the hard work undertaken to safeguard the critical service by all those involved in the project,” added Waddell. “It is only through their innovative thinking, collaborative working and quick decision making that the digital transformation of this service has got to this stage.”
Now the team is working to transfer the remaining 3200 MECS service users to the fully digital service by the end of 2021.
“Our clients should feel confident that the service they rely on to live independently at home is not only cutting edge, but also more secure and more reliable than ever before,” said Ian Whitelaw, Falkirk Council’s Analogue to Digital Telecare Project Manager. “Our focus now is to build on our digital ambitions, offering new choices and services that will help them lead independent lives for as long as possible.”