ELDERLY ALARM AND TELECARE STANDARDS
In Ireland and the UK, the relevant quality/safety standard for telecare two-way speech units is part of the European EN50134 series of standards for Social Alarms.
If your telecare base-unit meets the EU standard, you can be assured that many important safeguards will be integrated into the unit. You should be aware of these safeguards before you decide on any telecare system as they could save your life someday. Some of the built-in safeguards are outlined below:
Ask suppliers if their telecare equipment meets the minimum requirements for a social alarm system under this safety standard
♦ Most two-way speech units will dial through to a monitoring centre a number of times. This is important if for any reason the call does not get through the first time.
♦ Most two-way speech units come with a built in battery backup installed. This is important to ensure your alarm will continue to function in the event of a power cut. The longer the battery backup lasts the better. A few hours backup may not be enough, for instance if a power cut happens late at night.
♦ If your alarm complies with the EU Telecare Standard this means it will have minimum requirements on fault reporting. Minimum fault reporting functionality within the base-unit, means monitoring centre operators can figure out what’s causing a problem over the phone-line. No unnecessary call-out charges and importantly for your safety, you won’t have to wait to get the issue resolved.
♦ Audible and visible indicators in your base unit mean you know when the monitoring centre connects and disconnects a call to your home. These indications should be clearly distinguishable. Most units will sound a unique combination of tones to indicate connection and disconnection to/from the monitoring centre. The lights on the unit may also change. Again, it will depend on the make/model of base-unit. Check this before you buy if this is important to you. From a privacy perspective some people are reassured by this function.
♦ The sensitivity of the microphone in the base-unit will also vary depending on the make/model. The sensitivity can be important, as it means you can be some distance from the unit and still be heard by the monitoring centre.
EXTRA EMERGENCY ALARM BUTTON
♦ Most two-way speech units have a large emergency button on the front. This allows you to trigger an emergency call, even if no other telecare devices are present. If you have misplaced your elderly alarm button this can be used as a temporary safeguard, though it will depend on the location of the two-way speech unit and whether or not you can reach it in an emergency. Many people have the unit located beside their beds or in the hallway of their home.
ELDERLY ALARM CANCELLATION BUTTON
♦ A different coloured button on the front of your two-way speech unit, means you can cancel any calls made accidentally.