Devon’s New Care Service For Over-55s

A pioneering initiative between Devon County Council and the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWAST) has been officially launched.

The Devon-wide pilot will support people aged 55 and over, living in their own homes and linked to a call centre, usually by a pendant alarm.

The new service also extends to people living in sheltered or warden assisted housing.

The Mobile Response Service is funded by Devon County Council, as the administering authority for Devon’s Supporting People programme, and is managed by SWAST.

Historically, SWAST’s clinicians have been called to non-medical situations where an elderly person may have fallen but fortunately not sustained an injury. Consequently, any attending resources – clinicians, vehicles and equipment – which were allocated to these calls were prevented from attending life threatening emergencies.

Experience has also indicated that many people are reluctant to contact the ambulance service for incidents that do not appear to them to be an emergency, and have put themselves at risk by not calling for assistance.

This new partnership provides a 24-hour service specifically for non-injured clients and those with other identified health and social care needs.

The dedicated team works in conjunction with the alarm call centres to provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week across Devon, excluding Plymouth and Torbay.

The mobile team carries equipment such as a lifting cushion, which is used to effortlessly and painlessly move someone who has fallen.

The team can deal with a wide variety of incidents, and where other assistance is needed, they will direct clients to other appropriate services.

They will also identify risks in and around people’s homes to prevent further potential problems.

Users of the service, when appropriate, expect a scheduled re-visit from the mobile response service to check their progress and well being, and close liaison is maintained with the alarm centres and support staff.

The service delivers a swift response, and with vehicles operating from three bases in Exeter, Totnes and Bideford, many older people across the county will benefit.

Devon County Council’s Executive Member for Adult and Community Services, Cllr Hugo Barton, said:

“Devon is continuing to take effective measures to support the increasing numbers of older people, to help them live independently at home for longer.

“The introduction of this mobile response service means that older people with telecare alarms are able to receive a response, other than just an emergency ambulance, should they have difficulties when they are on their own.

“This is a welcome development for people living within sheltered housing schemes without 24 hour a day staff. It is also particularly welcome news for home owners, who can now also start to access support needed for continued independent living.”

Paul Smith, Project Manager for SWAST is delighted to have helped form the partnership. He said:

“I would like to thank Devon County Council for taking the initiative in funding this innovative service and for asking SWAST to work in partnership with them.

“I have no doubt the mobile response service will benefit hundreds of people throughout the county and enable many others to remain living safely in their own homes.