When choosing a pendant alarm or telecare system, most people simply want an emergency button that’s reliable. One that will call for help when they can’t reach a telephone. Quality & reliability should always be your top considerations. But how do you know that your pendant alarm button will in fact be reliable? And what about other practical issues. Like, whether or not your emergency button will work outside, in your driveway or garden? And privacy. Is it important for you to know when a call to your monitoring centre begins and ends? Or what if there’s a power cut in your area, will your telecare alarm still function?
To help you choose a suitable pendant alarm system, we’ve outlined five commonly overlooked considerations below. You can ask suppliers about these before buying your pendant alarm, to ensure you are getting the most suitable telecare system.
Question #1 – Pendant Alarm Range
If you enjoy some gardening, or spending time outdoors around your home, you should check that the pendant alarm has an adequate transmission range. Then you’ll know help can still be called, if you fall or need assistance while outside. In this context, the ‘transmission range’ refers to the distance the pendant alarm will transmit to the telecare base-unit. Many pendant alarms will have a transmission distance of around 250 metres ‘line of sight’. That can be a good guide of the distance you can expect. But that ‘line of sight’ will be reduced, by factors such as the thickness of walls and even doors in your home. So do remember to take that into account. If the alarm is being installed by your telecare company, you can also ask them to test the range for you, by pressing the pendant alarm button from outside your home during the installation.
Another option, if you have outhouses or an outdoor shed with an electricity supply, is to get ‘repeaters’ installed by your telecare company. Repeaters can increase the transmission distance of your pendant alarm (usually by around an extra 100 metres per repeater). This could be useful if you have large grounds or live on a farm. Not all telecare suppliers offer this option, so shop around if it could be of benefit to you.
Question #2 – Privacy Notifications
Audible and visible indicators in your telecare base-unit, can let you know when the monitoring centre connects and disconnects a call to your home. Many base-units will sound a distinguishable combination of tones, to indicate connection and disconnection to/from the monitoring centre. The lights on the unit may also change. If this is important to you, check it with telecare suppliers before choosing your alarm. From a privacy perspective many people are reassured by this function.
Question #3 – Waterproof
It’s important to get a waterproof pendant, as you don’t want to be worrying about remembering to take the wristband or pendant on and off, every time you get a bath or shower. Or when you do the dishes. Also, remember ‘waterproof’ and ‘water resistant’ can mean different things. Check what exactly you can expect from your pendant alarm as regards this, when you contact your telecare supplier.
Question #4 – Style & Comfort
Style and comfort are not something most people associate with pendant alarms and telecare. But this can be important. If you are not comfortable wearing your pendant alarm, or with how it looks, you will be less likely to wear it. Which means you may not be able to call for help in an emergency. As regards comfort, you might also want to check how easy/affordable it is to get a replacement wristband or pendant attachment for your alarm button. This is because its comfort could lessen over time, for instance, if it’s frequently in contact with water.
Question #5 – Safety Features
The quality and reliability of any pendant alarm or telecare system should always be your first consideration. Providing you buy your alarm from a reputable supplier, it should adhere to a recognised quality standard, such as the EN50134 series of standards for social alarms. But do check this with the telecare supplier. Standards are important as they include crucial safeguards such as a built in back-up battery within your alarm base-unit. Without this your alarm will not work if there’s a power cut (…yet that’s just when you’re likely to need it). And bear in mind, the longer the battery backup lasts the better. Consider that only a few hours backup may not be enough, for instance if a power cut happens late at night. Repeat dialling is another important safety feature. This function means your telecare unit will dial through to a 24-hour monitoring centre a number of times, if for any reason the call does not get through the first time.