WELLBEING SERVICE: Different but as much help as ever

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In response to M Mother’s letter (Spalding Guardian, April 17), I’d like to provide some answers and reassurance regarding the Wellbeing Service.

Let me start by saying that the service, which started on April 1, will actually provide a better service to more residents than the previous arrangements. It helps people stay safe in their own homes through installation of equipment such as safety aids, monitoring of alarms, rapid response and additional short-term support.

This service is now available to any Lincolnshire residents over the age of 18 following a single assessment – not just to those in sheltered housing. Assistive technology – such as Telecare or ‘life line’ alarms – will continue to be monitored 24-hours-a-day for a cost of only 36 pence per week. The 24-hour rapid response service will respond to alarm calls triggered, for example, if someone falls, with a maximum 45-minute response time. Subscription to the service costs £1.50 per week.

To answer the specific points in the letter, the rapid response service responds to urgent, non-emergency situations from three key locations around the county – Grantham, Boston, and Lincoln.

Each of these centres is staffed 24/7 by trained responders who use their own vehicles after providing copies of a valid MOT and insurance covering business use. The responders will be coordinated from a central point, meaning they’ll be deployed quickly and efficiently.

They’ll also work waking night shifts, meaning they will not sleep when they’re on duty.

Additionally, the provider is required, via their contract with the county council, to have business continuity plans in place to cover risks, including extreme weather conditions.

The letter also posed a scenario where an elderly man had fallen in the bathroom of a locked property and was unable to move, asking how rapid responders would access the home and provide assistance.

Upon signing up for the rapid response service, each customer will have a key safe installed so that responders can access the property in case the resident is unable to let them in. Rapid responders do not hold keys to the properties – these would be safely stored in key safes.

But if, as in this example, the monitoring service was unable to raise a response from the customer, they would consider alerting the ambulance straight away to avoid unnecessary delays in getting the right medical assistance – remember, the rapid response service is for support, not emergencies.

Your reader also questioned whether the person who made the call would have to wait too long for a response, or whether responders would be putting themselves in danger in their haste to respond. Rest assured that whenever a rapid response request comes in, the monitoring centre triages the situation to ensure the right resource is dispatched. In life or death situations, an ambulance will be hailed straight away, ensuring that no lives are unnecessarily put at risk.

I hope these explanations reassure your readers that the Wellbeing Service, including the rapid response service, will provide them as much support as they have now, even if it’s offered in a slightly different way.

Customers are being assessed in priority order. If you’d like to make an enquiry, we’d welcome you to do so by calling 01522 782140.

Ruth Cumbers

Joint head of prevention and early services intervention at Lincolnshire County Council