Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Community alarms checklist

These checklists are intended to give you an idea of what you should get from good equipment and a good alarm service. When looking for an alarm, you can print out this page and tick off the points for each of your choices.

Portable trigger

  • Is the portable trigger comfortable to wear?
  • Can it be worn in different ways - around your neck, wrist or on clothes?
  • Is it easy for you to press the button?
  • Will it set off the alarm from anywhere in your home and garden?
  • Does it look substantial enough to stand up to knocks and drops?
  • Does it automatically send a low-battery warning to the alarm centre?
  • Does the manufacturer or alarm scheme regularly replace triggers or their batteries?

The alarm unit

  • Does the alarm unit provide full two-way speech?
  • Will the button be easy to see and use in an emergency?
  • Does it have battery back-up power that lasts at least eight hours?
  • Does it warn you if mains power fails or back-up batteries run low?
  • Does it warn the centre if power fails or batteries run low?
  • Are there clear signals to show that an alarm call is getting through?
  • Does it warn you if the telephone line is faulty or disconnected?
  • Can it be used with other types of triggers that you need?

The call centre

  • Is the alarm centre a member of the Telecare Services Association (TSA)?
  • Does the centre provide cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
  • Are all calls answered quickly? The TSA requires 80% in half a minute and 98.5% in one minute.
  • Are there at least two operators at all times to answer calls?
  • Do all operators take account of the user's wishes when deciding what to do?
  • Are there procedures to ensure operators provide appropriate assistance in a wide range of circumstances?
     
  • Is all information on service users kept and handled confidentially by all staff?
  • Does the centre work well with emergency services in your area?
  • If the centre holds keys to users' homes, are they kept securely and identified only by code?
  • Does the centre check from time to time that users are satisfied with the service?
  • Does the centre have a complaints procedure that all users are told about?
  • Can the centre continue to work if essential services such as telephone or electricity fail?

Last updated: October 2012


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