The Telecare system, which for more than 20 years has provided a public service helping the elderly to continue living independently in their homes, is currently handling some 100,000 calls every six months. Approximately 75,000 calls are made to the Telecare call centre and a further 20,000 calls are made from the call centre to contact relatives of those using the service, their caregivers, or the emergency services. These figures are expected to increase following the recent launch of Telecareplus, which offers users increased and enhanced services.

Yiannos Michaelides, CEO at Go, said: “This invaluable service offered to the Maltese community is something Go cares about. The key to its success has been Malta’s phone network and the investment Go has made in it. The challenge was to find a way to further improve the service offered to the nearly 10,000 elderly who rely on it, in a way which was also economically viable. Go’s solution was to team up with emcare, a joint venture between Caremalta and IT company 6PM and the result was the launch of Telecareplus.”

Through the partnership with emcare, old Telecare Units which are now largely obsolete and expensive to repair, can now be replaced with the new Telecareplus service. emcare CEO, Ivan Bartolo, said, “emcare is backed by two leaders. Caremalta has been involved with the care of the elderly for the past 20 years when Casa Arkati was set up. And 6PM is a leading producer of software related to health and care. By combining our resources we can continue to support the basic Telecare service while also encouraging subscribers to upgrade to Telecareplus.

“emcare has invested €2 million and plans to invest a further €2 million in the next three to four years to roll out Telecareplus,” said Mr Bartolo. “The result of our collaboration with Go means the service remains viable and improves. And the government has also been able to remove the 10,000 cap on the maximum number of people who can subscribe to Telecare, which is very important given the rising number of elderly people in the population.”

emcare intends to replace 2,500 units a year, starting off with those who upgrade to the €4 a month Telecareplus service. This service offers valuable add-ons like pill dispensers, flood and gas detectors.

The panic button can also be upgraded to a pendant which is also a fall detector. This is automatically triggered even if the person is unconscious.

“The automation of the system means that if the call centre cannot make contact with the subscriber, they will notify the next of kin, or relevant emergency services,” Mr Bartolo concluded.

What is Telecareplus?

To be eligible for the subsidised service, you must either be over 60, or have a chronic disease or disability.

Telecareplus is based on a pendant worn by the subscriber. If you are feeling faint or fall and are on the floor and still conscious, you can press the panic button.

Telecareplus is based on an intelligent hub and the subscriber can interact with the government-run call centre. For example, if the panic button is hit, the call centre will call to verify what has happened and what service is required. There is also an intruder button – and if the subscriber does not respond to the call centre, the police are immediately alerted.

There are also numerous other services like a medication reminder, which will alert the call centre if the medication alarm is ignored by the subscriber.

Mr Bartolo believes that the system offers much more than peace of mind.

“The system builds up a profile of the person and analyses trends and patterns. If you do not take the medicine time and again, is there the start of dementia? If the person pushes the panic button every day for nothing, is it a sign of loneliness? You can also programme the box so that at a specific time, the subscriber must press a button to indicate that they are up and well.”

The platform will also be used in the future to build up medical profiles of the person, who will be able to submit their blood pressure, diabetes or even peak flow, which will then trigger alerts to medical staff when they are outside the upper or lower limit for that particular patient.

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