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Cheshire East Council’s adults and health committee has agreed to implement standardised charging for its telecare service.

Telecare encompasses a range of electronic devices that can support residents’ independence to carry on living in their own home and in their local community. It includes assistive technologies like personal alarms, door sensors, and GPS monitoring devices.

The council’s telecare service is available for adults over 18 years living in their own home. Residents can access this by speaking to the council’s assistive technology provider Wellbeing Cheshire East or by having a social care assessment through the council.

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Following an extensive committee consultation between May and July 2021, it was recommended that people aged 85 and over who are living alone are to be charged £5 per week for the council’s telecare service. This is the same charge as all other users currently pay.

The council currently supplies a free service to about 10 percent of the over 85 population in Cheshire East. For the majority of the over 85 population who use other providers or do not use a telecare service, there will be no change.

Anyone who cannot afford to pay will have the opportunity to ask for a financial assessment, which may result in them continuing to receive the service for no charge, Cheshire East Council says. The local authority underlines that it will support any individual with reduced capacity to ensure that they would be supported to access a financial assessment should they need to.

Councillor Jill Rhodes, Cheshire East Council’s adults and health committee chair, said: “We are actively supporting older people to achieve a better quality of life by using assistive technology equipment to enable the more vulnerable members of our community to have improved safety, care and independence, all in their own homes.

“When we reviewed the existing charging policy, it was clearly unfair to others to single out those 85 years of age and older and who are living alone for this free benefit.

“The decision to make a comprehensive charging policy means that all users who can afford to pay will pay the same fee and this meets the spirit of the 2014 Care Act which said that charges should be fair. The charge the council makes is cheaper than some private providers and no other council offers a free telecare service.”

Jill added that partly due to the ageing population, demand for the telecare service is increasing. She said that the service needs to be financially sustainable in the long-term too.

“By amending the charging policy, it will allow more people to take up the service, and for the scope of the technology to be broadened,” added Jill.

The council has confirmed it is still looking at the implementation plan for this project, but it is likely letters will be sent out to those affected in October to inform them of the committee decision and provide a timescale for implementation.

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