Today, O2 Health launches Help at Hand, the UK’s first telecare service built around mobile technology. In a major step forward for the care industry, Help at Hand expands telecare support beyond the boundaries of the home giving people with long term conditions the freedom, reassurance and support they need to go about their daily lives ‘ outside of their immediate care environment.

Help at Hand is a complete mobile telecare service that encompasses an easy to carry mobile-enabled pendant or wristwatch connected to a secure website and 24/7 alarm receiving centre. The service is developed specifically for health and social care settings where there is a major focus on using technology to improve care services, provide greater patient choice and better manage healthcare resources.

The use of telecare is proven to help delay or avoid unnecessary admission to care homes, reduce emergency call outs, days in hospital and importantly reduce risk to the user. In addition, where cost benefit of existing telecare solutions has been assessed, it is estimated that a total of £5.8 million has been saved in care services ‘ across just 1,722 service users in England.

However, only 1% of available telecare solutions in the UK are mobile-based, leaving many people with long-term conditions little choice when it comes to accessing support beyond the fixed boundaries of their homes.

Keith Nurcombe, managing director of O2 Health, says: ‘The health and social care landscape in the UK is changing rapidly ‘ more people require long term care, resources are under pressure, patients are demanding more choice ‘ providers are being asked to do a lot more with a lot less. We believe there is huge potential for technology to help – in terms of giving patients more independence as well as reducing the cost and resources required for building-based care.’

Help at Hand gives users the freedom and reassurance to get out and about, whilst staying connected to the people and support they depend upon for care. A discreet pendant or wristwatch connects them to a 24/7/365 alarm receiving centre with specially trained staff who can to help. Features of the pendant or wristwatch include a fall down detector and GPS so the user’s location can be identified. Safe zones can also be defined; and if the individual moves out of this zone the receiving centre is alerted and staff can take the appropriate action. Guidelines for the user’s care are set up via the secure Help at Hand website.

Nurcombe continues: ‘For many patient groups now being considered for telecare services, being confined to their homes is no longer acceptable. They want to be able to go about their daily lives with the reassurance that help is quickly available should they need it. Mobile technology is a natural fit – this is where we have identified a need and developed Help at Hand to meet it.’

Help at Hand was developed in conjunction with Telefonica Digital’s Health Research & Development team in Granada. eHealth is one of the key digital service focus areas for Telefonica’s new Digital business which has been formed to create new opportunities in the digital world.

The Help at Hand service will be available from April to health and social care organisations.


Supporting quotes

Devon Partnership NHS Trust

Help at Hand allowed Devon Partnership NHS Trust to use software to interact with patients as and when they required help and support. ‘It felt like a real breakthrough,’ said Tobit Emmens Managing Partner, Research & Development – Devon Partnership NHS Trust. ‘Help at Hand really stood out as a product because it meant that we could explore patients’ issues in a very defined and safe way. Telecare works best for young people when they can integrate the care and support they need with everyday life.’

National Voices
Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of National Voices, says: ‘Telecare can help people with long-term conditions live more independently when it is part of a well planned, coordinated care package. As with all care, the important element is that it is driven directly by the things patients need. Quality of life comes directly from putting patients in the driving seat with the right support and with the right information to make the right choices for them.’

Telecare Services Association (TSA)
‘It is clear that many in the UK healthcare industry understand the value and benefit that telecare can bring to the lives of those living with long-term health conditions. The key to implementing telecare effectively is to ensure that services meet the needs of patients, enabling them to live their lives the way they want to. One way in which this can be done is through use of mobile networks to extend telecare beyond the home and boost the independence of users,’ said Trevor Single, CEO of The Telecare Services Association (TSA).

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