Transition to Digital Telecare in Housing

Digital telecare in housing relates to warden call systems, dispersed telecare alarm systems and bespoke digital systems that enable information to be shared with on-site staff, an off-site Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), trusted people or a combination of all three.

In 2017, British Telecom announced that by 2025 the existing analogue telephone network will be switched off and everyone will be moved to a digital internet protocol (IP) voice service delivered over the internet.

Digital telecare removes the reliance on analogue connectivity and signalling protocols, instead using digital connections and signalling protocols. This allows telecare services to be transferred from analogue to digital on a ‘like-for-like’ basis.

Craig O’Donnell outlines the implications of the analogue switch off, why it’s important for housing organisations to act now and the help available from the Digital Telecare Team.

 

What are the implications for housing?

Around 45,000 customers currently receive telecare services from their housing provider. Housing providers delivering these services will be directly impacted by the UK-wide All-IP programme in relation to provision in sheltered, retirement and extra care communities. The move to digital telecare provides a significant increase in the flexibility, capability and capacity of telecare equipment and the connection between a user’s home and the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). This provides the opportunity to:

  • improve the efficiency of telecare delivery
  • widen the range of telecare services offered to users
  • integrate telecare with other health and care services.

Impact of switch over

Housing providers must act now to ensure that no one is left behind in the ‘Once for Scotland’ nationwide digital switchover. The run up to the 2025 deadline will also see the cessation of analogue infrastructure in September 2023. These issues must be taken account of now, both when planning for new housing development and considering services to current customers. Some analogue solutions may continue to operate after the switch over. However, these are likely to become less reliable or not work at all, with additional complexities surrounding installation, maintenance and device management.

 

Benefits and Opportunities


Opportunities exist to expand the offering in communities by exploring:

  • possibilities around the integration of systems
  • development of the Internet of Things
  • increased home automation and connectivity
  • new approaches to independent living.

Customers are central to the analogue to digital transition and should be encouraged to make choices around the extent to which they wish to participate in a digital world. They should be afforded choice and receive digital services that are personalised and meaningful to their health and wellbeing.

 

The Analogue to Digital Telecare Programme

Digital Telecare has been working closely with providers to identify the requirements for a smooth, safe transition to a digital service for customers in receipt of telecare in their home environments. It has been established to support the strategic direction of the transition from analogue to digital telecare, through a portfolio of programmes providing:

  • thought leadership
  • operational telecare management experience and knowledge
  • digital security
  • programme and project management.

It also supports a ‘Once for Scotland’ approach where:

  • the experiences of different stakeholders undertaking the transition are shared
  • standardised models and processes are implemented
  • the Digital Telecare in Housing Programme is underpinned by the TEC in Housing Charter pledges.

 

Linstone Housing Association – The Journey to Digital Telecare

Maureen Richardson, Digital Transformation Officer, Linstone Housing Association

Additional Help and support

The Digital Telecare Team is supporting social landlords (local authorities and registered social landlords) with the transition from analogue to digital telecare services.

Digital Telecare Team, Digital Office for Scottish Local Government.
Email: Digitaltelecare@digitaloffice.scot

The Digital Telecare site is packed full of resources, including a Digital Telecare Playbook that includes a specific pathway for housing providers. Registration for the Playbook is quick and simple. Go to https://telecare.digitaloffice.scot

Digital Telecare events

Three Digital Telecare online events took place between March and May 2021. These brought together housing experts, Scottish Government representatives and suppliers.