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An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.

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Your Alarm. Your Way. Be safe anywhere. Available in watch or pendant format with 24/7 or family monitoring. Plus fall detection & GPS tracker.

Can You Get an Elderly Personal Alarm for Free on the NHS?

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

The movement for “ageing in place” holds that we shouldn’t assume a move to a care home is a natural step for the elderly. Rather, it’s better for seniors to receive supports to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible.

That just makes sense, doesn’t it? In fact, a 2023 survey of people aged 75 or over found that a whopping 95% of people would rather stay in their own homes as they age.

However, the same survey found that under 4% of the respondents have a personal alarm, which is a key tool to help older people remain safe – especially when they’re living independently. Personal alarms can vary widely in complexity and functionalities, but their most basic element is a button you can press to call for help in an emergency.

So, if you’re an older person or you’re looking to help an elderly loved one, how can you get a personal alarm? Is there help from the government?

Read on as we explore whether you can get a personal alarm from the NHS or your local council, and what functions you want to look for in a personal alarm.

Can you get a personal alarm for the elderly free from the NHS?

Unfortunately, the answer to this one is simple – you can’t. However, the NHS page on personal alarms and telecare does mention contacting your council. You might then wonder…

Can you get a personal alarm for the elderly free from your council?

All councils approach the topic of personal alarms differently, so there is no single answer to this question. However, you typically cannot get a personal alarm free from your council and those on offer may not offer the functionality your require.

Many councils do have contracts with companies that provide personal alarms. In some cases, these alarms are provided at a reduced price for people with lower incomes. However, they are generally not free. They often have a monthly cost.

The way to get an alarm from your council typically also varies. Often, you’ll need to have a home assessment. During this assessment, someone from your council will take a look at your home and see what’s difficult or unsafe for you. The council might then recommend that you get a personal alarm.

Alternatively, you can use the government’s tool for finding your council’s community alarm services.

All this being said, before you start, it’s worth noting the wording on the NHS page about personal alarms. It says:

“Some councils provide monitoring services. They're usually basic systems.”

This is a key point to note. Many personal alarms provided through council services are not sophisticated and may lack some functions you would want.

Different councils provide different types of personal alarm services, so it’s best to see for yourself what might be available to you. Some councils even provide more alarm features to people who they feel need them.

Here, we’ll list some points to think about and some drawbacks you might see in a simpler device provided through your council.

Factors to weigh when considering a council-provided personal alarm

Home-based versus mobile alarms

When you’re looking into alarms provided by your council, take a look at whether the alarm works just in your home or anywhere.

You may see a council’s alarm service pages talking about connecting a personal alarm system to your landline and a power outlet in your home. This type of personal alarm typically only works within the home. It can still be useful for some seniors who don’t leave their homes, but many older people will want an alarm that works just the same whether they’re out and about or even on holiday somewhere else in the UK.

A mobile alarm with GPS doesn’t just provide protection outside your home. It also allows family members to track the alarm’s wearer. That can be useful just for reassurance – “Oh, mum’s not answering her phone at home because she’s at the garden centre.” It can also be immensely helpful in protecting seniors with dementia who may go wandering and get lost.

Talking pendant and wrist alarms

Some council alarm services only offer alarms in the form of a simple wristband or a pendant with a button. For some seniors, the look of these alarms may not be appealing.

For those older people, a personal alarm worn on the wrist may be more attractive. These wrist-worn personal alarms resemble a smart watch, so they don’t stand out starkly amid a carefully chosen outfit.

On the other hand, some seniors prefer a pendant alarm. In that case, they should check whether or not the council-provided alarm is a talking pendant.

The difference with a talking pendant alarm is that you can speak to someone directly through the alarm. With simpler pendant alarms, you can only press a button on the alarm to call for help. To actually speak to someone, you might have to talk into the alarm’s base unit, which might be plugged in within another room.

24/7 monitored alarms vs family and friends alarms

Here’s another key difference in alarm types. When you press the button on a 24/7 monitored alarm, it connects you to a response centre where someone is available to answer at all times. In contrast, a family and friends alarm puts you in touch with a family member whose phone number you have loaded into the alarm ahead of time.

It’s important to note here that neither method is superior. But one approach might be far more sensible for one older particular person. For example, if an older person has family members living a few doors down the street, then a family-monitored alarm might be preferred. On the other hand, if an older person has loved ones who aren’t able to access their phones often during working hours, an alarm that calls a response centre might be better.

If you’re considering a personal alarm through your council, check to see whether the alarm connects the wearer to a response centre or to loved ones when its button is pushed.

Fall detection

A super-basic alarm that simply calls for help when a button is pushed may not have the more sophisticated feature of fall detection.

Fall detection is just what it sounds like. Sensors in the alarm can detect when the wearer has fallen, and the alarm calls for help automatically when it senses a fall.

Fall detection is another layer of protection against a dangerous ‘long lie’ – one hour or more of lying on the floor and being unable to get up. A long lie can seriously harm an older person’s health. For example, an elderly person might be freezing cold lying on the floor and unable to reach a blanket for covering.

With fall detection, this is less of a worry. Even if an older person is unconscious or unable to press their alarm’s button, fall detection ensures that help is called anyway.

Your reasons for getting a personal alarm

Before you choose your personal alarm, don’t forget to consider whether it suits your specific needs and purposes. As we’ve mentioned, a super-basic alarm might be fine for some situations, whereas it wouldn’t work at all for many others.

Some main reasons for getting personal alarms are:

  • Protection from a ‘long lie’ after a fall
  • The ability to call for help in the case of health or other emergencies
  • ‘Just in case’ peace of mind for elderly people who are generally well
  • Protection for older people with dementia who are at risk of wandering
  • Backup protection for elderly people with carers if a carer isn’t immediately nearby.

As you think about your reasons for needing a personal alarm, think also about what contexts the alarm will be used in.

If an older person often goes for walks on a walking path near their home, for example, a mobile alarm would be an excellent idea. An alarm that works only at home wouldn’t be of use during the important moments when that older person is alone in a field and not able to get help.

How SureSafe alarms protect seniors in different ways

Ultimately, choosing a personal alarm for the elderly is a very individual and personal process. There’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re deciding which alarm is best for you.

Personal alarms from SureSafe offer far more than just the basics. As well as one-touch button functionality, fall detection and GPS tracking, they have other abilities like medication reminders, a ‘talking watch’ functionality, and even an app to help the wearer stay in touch with friends and family.

You might not be surprised to hear, then, that SureSafe has 4.8 stars out of 5 on both Trustpilot and We’re a market leader in elderly personal alarms in the UK, and we’re dedicated to helping you find an alarm that gives you peace of mind and security. If you’d like to talk with our team to learn more, just give us a call at 0808 189 1671. You can also reach out to us through our live chat or request a call back.

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