ALT (Assistive Living Technology) has been available for many years but the hot topic is the national rollout of telecare and telehealth. Telecare refers to personal alarm systems while telehealth refers to remote health monitoring (NHS, 2012). Both tend to be discussed together as they often share a communications and service management infrastructure.
Many local authorities provide telecare as part of their adult social care service. Although there are benefits to end users, there is also a potential savings in the adult social care budget from providing care at home rather than residential care. To achieve economies of scale, many local authorities partner with other, often neighbouring, authorities.
The effectiveness of Telecare and telehealth in saving lives, improving care and reducing hospital admissions has been assessed by the large scale WSD randomised control trial which published headline findings in December 2011. However, providing both telecare and telehealth requires partnership working between local authorities and the various health organisations. The Whole Systems Demonstrator (WSD) project showed this was complex and took a very long time because of the fragmentation of health and social care in England.
In response, the Government launched the Three Million Lives programme to accelerate
the rollout of telecare and telehealth over the next 5 years (TML, 2012). This included a
government ‘Concordat’ with the health industry as represented by the Telecare Services
Association (TSA), Association of British Healthcare Industries (abhi), Intellect and Medilink.