Lifeline thrown to Moray’s elderly

NEW technology is being used to support vulnerable people in Forres and the rest of Moray in their choice to live safely at home.

And a Forres councillor has hailed the initiative for bringing “better health and maintaining independence”.

Older people want to retain their independence for as long as possible in a familiar environment, but growing frailty can leave them exposed to dangers such as falls, fire and wandering.

Concern over these issues has traditionally resulted, for many elderly people, in the conclusion that it is unsafe for them to live at home, leading to their being admitted to residential care and other institutional settings.

However, through telecare, residents are able to benefit from a range of alarms and sensors designed to provide a round-the-clock link to help in times of emergency and to manage everyday hazards in the home.

The Moray Lifeline Service – accessed through the Moray Council community care teams – provides community alarms, telecare sensors and assistive technology, free of charge, to around 1,500 service users, bringing additional peace of mind to them and their families.

Advances in support technology are recognised as being of increasing assistance as the elderly population continues to grow and rising numbers aspire to remain in their own home rather than going into care.

The commitment of the Moray Community Health and Social Care Partnership to developing the use of technology to support the choice to live independently is set out in the Moray telehealthcare strategy 2010-2013, which was approved by councillors at a recent meeting of the Moray Council health and social care services committee.

Committee chairman Councillor Lee Bell (Forres) said: “It sets out a plan for the continued integration of telehealthcare technologies as a mainstream component of all community care services, including social care, health and housing services, for all client groups.

“The strategy will contribute to better health and maintaining independence, developing care services closer to home and promoting a preventative, enablement/rehabilitation and anticipatory focus to care services.

“With budgets for future years being so uncertain, we must adopt smarter and more efficient ways of providing services to the community in Moray, and I believe this is an important tool.”

The partnership’s telehealthcare strategy and development manager, Lorna Bernard, added: “The Scottish Government has financially supported the development of telecare and telehealth services since 2006.

“That investment and additional match-funding made available by the council has allowed us to develop and extend these services in Moray.

“It is very satisfying to see the positive impact that assistive technologies can have on people’s lives through, for example, preventing or delaying admission to hospital or residential care, enabling their early return home after a spell in hospital and helping to promote feelings of safety and well-being.

“We recognise that there are limitations. Technology cannot replace the need for personal care where required.

“The strategy sets out priorities for further promoting inclusion, choice and support for service users and carers as demands on health and social care change.”

People most likely to benefit from the strategy include those who:

    * Live alone or are regularly left alone;
    * Live with a person who could not cope on their own in an emergency;
    * Are at risk because of restricted mobility, ill health or frailty;
    * Are at risk from domestic violence;
    * Live in an isolated location.

The leaflet, ‘Moray Lifeline and Telecare Services’, available from a variety of outlets including GP surgeries, libraries and pharmacies, gives details on accessing the Moray Lifeline Service. It can also be obtained by calling 01343 544166.

The Moray telehealthcare strategy is also available to download from the Moray Council website at, and in local libraries.

Copies are also available from Lorna Bernard on 01343 567185 or by e-mail from [email protected]

The council is keen to receive feedback, comments or suggestions in relation to both telehealthcare and the strategy.