>> 30 March 2010

Gordon MSP Alex Salmond and SNP Gordon Westminster Candidate, Richard Thomson, have welcomed an additional £4 million investment in care for the elderly, describing it as a ‘further step forward’ in allowing people to continue living independently.

The money is being made available by the Scottish Government to all local authorities, including Aberdeenshire, to provide ‘Telecare’ – the use of electronic devices to help monitor and improve the safety of those who may previously have needed hospital or residential care instead.

Telecare can include the use of motion sensors to detect when someone has not moved for some time and may have fallen; emergency alarms to summon help in a crisis; vibrating 'rumble' pillows for people who are hard of hearing; electronic reminders to take medication; as well as fire and intruder alarms linked to a 24-hour control room.

The funding is being made available through the Scottish Government's eHealth programme over 2010-11, with all 32 local council and health board partnerships being offered £120,000 - subject to them committing match funding of an equal or greater amount.

Nearly 26,000 older Scots already benefit from telecare as part of a £16 million programme which began in 2006. The additional £4 million will allow a further 13,000 people to receive telecare – which as well as allowing more people to retain their independence, will also help to avoid an estimated 21,000 hospital admission days through the prevention of injury and the ability to send medical help quickly when needed.

Mr Salmond said:

"This is a further step forward in delivering the support that some of our older folk need to carry on living independently.

“Investing in telecare is vital if we are to continue to meet the needs of our growing older population. Helping older people remain in their own homes in this way is something we must explore further if we are to rise to the challenges we face.

"Our older population is expected to rise by 62 per cent over the next two decades. We are firmly committed to free personal care and helping people to live independently - investing in new technology like this has enormous potential to help us do exactly that.”

Mr Thomson added:

“I’m very pleased to learn that this additional resource is being made available. Helping people to live for as long as possible in their own homes is a good thing in my book, and by giving a little extra help like this, we can help prevent a range of avoidable injuries and accidents, as well as allowing carers to spend their time as productively as possible.

“This investment not only supports a shift in the balance of care from institutions to home - it helps people keep their independence and continue to contribute to their community as they always have."

In 2010-11 the 32 local area partnerships will be encouraged to use telecare to support improvements in falls prevention and the management of long term conditions like chronic heart failure and dementia.

As at the end of 2009, 25,800 people in Scotland had received telecare support funded by the National Telecare Development Programme.

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