Over the past week, we’ve been informed about incidents involving telecare users from another communications provider who had been switched to a digital landline. In light of this news, the telecoms industry, including BT, has agreed that the right thing to do is to temporarily pause all non-voluntary, managed migrations to a digital landline where there is any risk that a customer’s telecare service will not continue to work.

As part of ensuring that the necessary steps are taken to support customers making the switch, we welcome the introduction by Government of an industry charter. We are fully supportive of the formation of this charter and efforts to encourage Local Authorities and telecare providers to work with the industry on information sharing agreements, which will help us to identify telecare users before they switch.

The urgency for switching customers onto newer digital services grows by the day because the resilience of the 40-year old analogue landline technology is increasingly fragile. It’s critically important that we manage customer migrations from old to new as quickly and smoothly as possible, while making the necessary provisions for those customers with additional needs, including telecare. The charter of commitments will help significantly in achieving these objectives.

Collaborating with local authorities and telecare providers

We want to reassure our customers that we will continue to maintain strict policies to protect telecare users and vulnerable customers where we are made aware of their status. For those who use telecare, we will only switch them to Digital Voice where we, the telecare provider or the customer can confirm their service is compatible and functions using a digital landline. We offer these customers free resilience solutions such as battery back-up units and hybrid phones. Customers who are unsure or who have told us that they have a telecare device which isn’t compatible with a digital landline will not be switched until they tell us they’re ready.

We work with some participating local authorities and telecare providers across the country to identify users through information sharing agreements and we regularly ensure our data remains up to date. However, we would urge all local authorities and telecare providers to share their data with us so we can cross-reference this against our own database.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to work with our Digital Voice Advisory Group*, charity partners, housing associations, care homes and key industry groups to shape our approach to supporting vulnerable customers to ensure that our processes are designed to meet their needs. This includes check-in points with customers, via text message and postcards to encourage them to test to ensure their service is working and to make sure they have the right back-up solutions in place.

Supporting our customers

Together with Government, Ofcom, telecoms providers, charity partners and key industry groups, BT is working hard to ensure that everyone knows about the change, how they will be impacted and what they need to do.  Further information about the industry wide change can be found here: UK transition from analogue to digital landlines – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

We’d also encourage any vulnerable customers who have concerns or who haven’t told us about their circumstances to give us a call on 0330 1234 150. To find out more about BT’s new home phone service, Digital Voice, please visit: www.bt.com/digital-voice

A joint initiative between the Careline Community Service and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to help local residents return home from hospital sooner is to continue for another 12 months.

‘I’m going home’, which helped its first resident in September 2019, has been developed by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk to help provide services, free and at speed, which will enable patients to return home safely.

Hospital staff working in the Rapid Assessment and Frailty Team can refer them to the ‘I’m going home’ service. This means a ‘Go’ mobile alarm will be provided, free of charge, for six weeks while the patient gets settled back at home. The ‘Go’ is a mobile version of a Careline alarm which enables patients to summon help just by pressing the button. The device also has GPS tracking so assistance can be sent directly.

Cllr Jo Rust, Cabinet member for People and Communities, said:

“We launched this project with the hospital four years ago as we understand the need for people to get home from hospital.

“Returning home from hospital can be very stressful for patients not just because of their health, but also because of environmental factors which may lead to isolation or fear of being able to cope. The ‘Go’ device from our Careline team provides that additional reassurance both for the individual and for their families and reduces anxiety all round. I’m pleased that we will continue to support patients for another 12 months.”

Patients are assessed before being referred to this service, but once referred, set up is quick and easy, with no need for a landline.  This enables patients to return home speedily where their recovery is likely to be quicker.

Careline Community Service will contact the patient at the end of the six week period to discuss next steps. Residents who wish to retain the ‘Go’ service would need to sign up for the paid-for Careline service, discuss alternative products or arrange for the equipment to be returned if it is no longer required. Full details about the Careline service is available at careline-cs.org.uk or by calling 01553 616200.

Find out more on the latest news about the Digital Switchover below.

Our Careline Community Service alarms help thousands of people across Norfolk and parts of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, and Lincolnshire to live safely and independently within their own homes.

Our personal alarms and digital alarms are designed to be used in an emergency, therefore it is essential that these alarm pendants are tested on a regular basis.

Why should you test your pendant?

  • Testing your pendant once a month ensures everything is working correctly.
  • You gain confidence in using your alarm.
  • You will understand how the alarm system works once pressed and familiarise yourself with the process.
  • You will be prepared in an emergency due to the practice tests on your pendant.

Here at Careline Community Service we recommend that you test your pendant alarm once a month, simply by pressing the button. Doing a test call each month let’s us know your alarm is working correctly, it allows our 24/7 call centre to speak with you and personally check in, and lastly it can flag up any faults that may need to be fixed (free of charge).

How do you test your pendant?

  • Press the pendant (worn round the neck or wrist) once.
  • Wait a moment to be connected.
  • You will connect through a team member from our 24/7 alarm service.
  • Once they answer, say your name and that you are doing a test call.
  • They will check over your alarm to make sure signal is strong and all is working as it should, and that’s it!

Please don’t hesitate to test your alarm. We want you to feel comfortable and confident when doing so.

Find the most suitable Careline Community Service personal alarm for you.