Independent Comparison of Telecare Devices

Conducted by Guy Dewsbury, PhD

Guy Dewsbury is an independent research consultant who specialises in researching and writing about the relationship between technology, health and social care. We commissioned Guy to conduct a review of the most popular telecare devices and compare their features and benefits against the MonitorGO device. The following table and report are Guy’s findings.

FeaturesGeneric Personal Pendant AlertGeneric Telecare Fall DetectorGeneric Telecare Location DeviceGeneric Android SmartphoneMonitorGO Device
Manually operated alerts
Automatic alerts generated
Can be used in any location
Hard fall detection
Soft fall detection
Unconsciousness/inactivity detection
False alert prevention
GPS location tracking
24/7 monitoring centre
Third party monitoring
Choice of contacts to alert
Uses Android smartphone platform
Can make and receive calls

Conclusions

There are a range of devices that come under the banner of ‘telecare’ including pendant alerts, fall detectors and GPS location devices. Each offers a solution for a different issue. The main limitation of most traditional telecare is that it restricts the user to the home – it won’t work while out and about – and therefore some use a standard mobile phone as an additional aid to overcome this.

For those who are prone to falls in the home, a pendant can be useful but only if the user remains conscious. A fall detector would raise the alert in the case of a fall but can’t be used outside the home. A GPS location device is good for finding someone but doesn’t offer any other telecare features. A phone can be used to summon help wherever you are but is no use in the case of unconsciousness and can be complicated for those not used to using one.

These different telecare solutions are good if the user’s needs are simple, eg they are prone to falls but don’t tend to lose consciousness or leave the house or their family is concerned about not knowing where they are. If their needs are more complex they either require several devices or simply have to settle for gaps in their telecare solution. A single aid that combines the features of these different devices is therefore the ideal.

A new product has recently entered the market that is a smart phone with various telecare features added. MonitorGO offers the alert raising capability of a pendant, fall detection, location finding of a GPS device and the mobility of a phone. It also adds a few extra features in such as an inactivity monitor, to detect unconsciousness, and a failsafe that allows the person to cancel the upcoming alert if it is not required. The phone is a standard Android smartphone and uses the core built-in tasks to enable the telecare functions and to make and receive calls. The phone is, therefore, a substitute for the pendant, fall detector and location tracker whilst also being a mobile phone.

This would appear to be a very interesting development in the care of older people, both for users and for providers of telecare, in an industry that hasn’t seen any significant advances in technology for around 30 years. It is certainly one that the social sector should take note of and investigate the potential it offers.

Guy Dewsbury PhD
Independent Research Consultant
www.gdewsbury.com