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A new telecare and home safety service provided by Portsmouth City Council has gone live with the launch of a new website and the transition of its first clients to digital equipment.

About 1,100 Portsmouth adults, aged from 18 to above 100, are customers of the existing Telecare service which uses the landline telephone network to link alarms at their homes to a monitoring centre.

With that network due to be switched off in 2025 the council has chosen to update the service now and begin the transition to future-proof alarms and detectors which make use of the internet and mobile telephone technology.

Safe at Home is the name given to the revitalised service, which will provide home safety and security advice and kit as well as telecare. It will take over from April 1 when new contracts with equipment and alarm monitoring centre providers begins.

Cllr Darren Sanders with Safe at Home equipment

Cabinet Member for Housing and Preventing Homelessness, Cllr Darren Sanders (pictured above), said: “There are many benefits to people staying in their own homes for as long as possible, and the technology which Safe at Home provides is an important part of achieving this.

“The past two years have shown us that there is a strong case to equip people’s homes with alarms, sensors and detectors which allows them to live independently without losing touch with people who are able to provide them the care they need when they need that help.”

The website will able to receive expressions of interest until April 1, and then orders can be directly placed for the equipment and home safety visits.

Customers of Safe at Home will receive a base unit to transmit any alarm (pictured below with a portable alarm button) , and choose friends or family to be their two primary responders if they need assistance. The council has 24-hr response service if that is needed instead, and staff at the alarm receiving centre will be able to speak to the customer to see whether they need emergency services called out.

Safe at Home base unit and pendant

Smoke alarms, pressure sensors, fall detectors and motion monitors can all be linked automatically to the 24-hr monitoring centre to provide an exceptional level of reassurance. Other customers will only need the basic ability to raise the alarm for help.

Martin Brown, 61, of Cornwallis Crescent, has been a Telecare customer over the past two years after suffering badly broken legs. Concerns about him suffering further injuries while alone at home led to him signing up until his mobility improves, on recommendation from his occupational therapist.

His wife or brother will receive a call from the monitoring centre if he raises an alert, but thankfully that’s not been necessary yet.

Mr Brown (pictured below with Cllr Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader of the council) has been selected as one of 10 customers to have the new digital equipment ahead of the April activation to test it out, having a standard base unit and linked alarm button which he wears as a pendant

“For my wife, this is like her being at home,” he said. “I’ve only got to press this button and I get assistance, so it’s reassurance for me and for her.”

None of the existing Telecare customers are having their care arrangements changed as a result of the transition to Safe at Home, and the service is provided with no minimum term contract.

Martin Brown and Cllr Suzy Horton