John Woolham Completed 2018
Telecare devices aim to help older people by compensating for disabilities or impairments. It is claimed to support the independence of people using it, reduce unpaid carer workload and save councils and the NHS money by preventing unnecessary hospitalisation or moves to care homes.
Early studies, based mostly on small scale projects, invariably suggested positive outcomes. These, and lobbying by the AT/telecare industry led the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to provide an £80 million Preventive Technology Grant to support rapid upscaling of telecare use. Guidance was also published, and the DHSC also funded a large scale clinical trial of telecare’s impact, which became known as the ‘Whole System Demonstrator’ project. This found no evidence that telecare improved outcomes for users. Despite these findings, local authorities (LAs) continue to invest in telecare; notably in a continuing context of financial austerity.
The UTOPIA (Using Telecare for Older People In Adult Social Care) study was intended to provide a better understanding of:
The study took place between April 2016 and May 2017 and used a three stage, mixed-method design: (1) interviews with telecare lead managers in a representative sample of 25 LAs, (2) additional interviews with five to six key stakeholders from four of the 25 sites, chosen to offer a cross section of different approaches to AT/telecare implementation, and (3) an online survey of all English LAs. This achieved an overall response rate of 75%. Qualitative data from interviews were transcribed and analysed using NVIVO and survey data used SPSS.
Woolham JG, Steils N, Fisk M, Porteus J, Forsyth K (2018) The UTOPIA project. Using Telecare for Older People in Adult Social Care: The findings of a 2016-17 national survey of local authority telecare provision for older people in England, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, London.
Steils N, Woolham JG, Fisk M, Porteus J, Forsyth K (2019) Carers’ involvement in telecare provision by local councils for older people in England: perspectives of council telecare managers and stakeholders, Ageing and Society, published online.