Tunstall Healthcare Connected Care technology provided across eight North East care homes resulted in a reduction in falls, A&E visits and unnecessary hospital admissions.

A six-month Connected Care technology pilot scheme led by Teesside-based housing provider Coast & Country’s HomeCall Independent Living Service resulted in reduced ambulance callouts, A&E attendance and hospital admissions, generating net savings of more than £20,000.

Coast & Country’s HomeCall Independent Living Service supports over 5,000 people, helping them to live independently at home, using Tunstall Healthcare Connected Care (also known as telecare) technology solutions to raise an alert in the event of issues such as fires, floods or falls. Many of the calls received at the monitoring centre are related to service users falling, and HomeCall’s response team have specialist training and equipment to enable them to assist without the need for emergency services. More than 84% of fall-related calls to the HomeCall centre in 2014/15 were managed without calling an ambulance, and this success led to Coast & Country and North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to work with other local stakeholders to develop a more appropriate response to non-urgent falls in the North East.

James Hudson, Business & Service Development Manager, Coast & Country Housing said: “When we analysed the statistics, it was evident that we could play a key role in reducing unnecessary ambulance call outs and hospital admissions. A strategic approach to falls management, with telecare at the core, was the foundation for improved patient experience and savings to the public purse”

Care homes in the region were identified as a significant user of the ambulance service, with many calls considered unnecessary or made to mitigate risks. HomeCall and the South Tees NHS Falls Team obtained funding from the South Tees Better Care Fund to introduce telecare in eight top priority residential care homes, based on the frequency and cost of hospital admissions and the number of calls made to NEAS. In addition to training on how the telecare technology installed in the homes can be used to help prevent and react quickly to falls, care home staff were also educated on effective falls management.

The pilot aimed to improve the patient experience and deliver tangible improvements across three key metrics: A&E attendance at South Tees Hospitals; hospital admissions to South Tees Hospitals; and NEAS calls, response requirements and hospital admissions from the selected care homes.

During the six month scheme there were 154 hospital admissions from the pilot care homes in Q3 and Q4 2017, down from 167 in the same period the previous year, translating to a cost saving of £37,251. A&E attendances fell from 255 to 230, saving £3,500, while the combined reductions in callouts and response requirements from NEAS were estimated to have saved £5,543. Overall, the pilot was estimated to have saved the health service £20,107.

Paula Briggs, Project Manager, South Tees Better Care Fund said: “The pilot created positive improvements and outcomes for a range of South Tees NHS services and most importantly care home residents. Their daily experience was enhanced through the reassurance and attentiveness telecare has provided. In addition to resident experience, the savings to the public purse have been incredible.”

Lawrence Christensen, Marketing Director at Tunstall said: “Falls can have a devastating effect, both physically and in terms of loss of confidence and independence. They also cost the NHS £2.3 billion each year. This project has demonstrated how technology can not only improve people’s lives by preventing falls, or mitigating their effects when they do happen, but can also deliver valuable savings to the health service in a short period of time.”