Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Our Silent 'Buddies' at Evergreen

(Oxford Dict. “buddy” = a close friend or mate.  US colloquialism)

We, the residents of Evergreen, seem to ignore three very close and highly technological buddies that safeguard our well-being.  They are a very close part of our everyday lifestyle, and when called upon can play a major role in saving our very lives.

Who are these “buddies”.  They are our “Telecare Buddy“ control unit that stands close to our telephone incoming line, the ancillary “Button Buddy” that we must wear and keep close to ourselves all the time – and especially when we are feeling unwell or recovering from an illness or surgery -  and our “Band Buddy” worn on the wrist.

The Telecare Buddy ensures contact with our central control room carers 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and is part of our lifestyle and levy charge.  One press of the RED key puts us into contact with help of any nature within 45 seconds of pressing that key.  The staffers manning the control room are able to speak to us from wherever we are in our residence.   We can tell them if we have had a fall, feel faint, sick or of whatever symptom we are suffering.  They will alert nursing aid to come to us, call ambulances, alert police or the fire department, and generally avert practically all life-threatening situations.  And, too, they have medical staff on call-out standby to come to our aid while, for example, we are waiting for an ambulance to transport us to a hospital and need urgent medical attention.

Should we not be able to actually reach the control unit by, say, falling and being unable to regain our feet, the wearing of our Buddy Button will save us.  Again, one press of the button, which we should be wearing around our neck, as a wristwatch on the strap, or clipped to our clothes, will bring the same aid to our help.  The most useful way is to wear the button around our necks, as the button is completely waterproof, and most falls take place in the bath or shower.  So showeror bathe with your Buddy Button and be protected.

Lastly, the Buddy Band worn on the wrist will be of use should we have the misfortune to have any form of accident while away from Evergreen, say, in a shopping centre or with friends, where we are out of range of the control unit.  A call by anyone to the unique phone number on the Buddy Band will establish our identity, ailments and/or medication we are taking and proper action can be taken to assist us.

This Telecare system is the result of much experience in caring for elder people, and is in very few other retirement villages or centres.  Telling others of this system we have evokes admiration that we should be so lucky to have such care and backup available to us.

Telecare is like insurance – absolutely useless until we need it – and then nothing will replace it.  Test your system once a month, take it out of the cupboard or drawer in which it is left lying, AND WEAR AND USE IT.  Stop thinking you don’t need it.  You will.

SELF-TEST.  Lie on the floor and see if you can stand up again!  Can’t?   Wear the button!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


A collaboration between the Western Cape Department of Social Development, Dementia SA, Helderberg Stroke Support Group and TeleCare(tm) Solutions has seen the launch of a pilot project to test a technology that is hoped will revolutionise how we protect and support our elderly and incapacitated persons.

The majority of South Africa's elderly and people living with critical health conditions fall within the lower to middle income bracket and cannot afford medical aid, care-givers or to live in facilities such as retirement villages or nursing homes.

Elderly persons vulnerable

"We notice that older persons in communities who live on their own are often not part of a community structure - this leaves them particularly vulnerable in terms of their health and safety" says Mr. Charles Jordan, Acting Director of Special Programmes - Western Cape Department of Social Development.

"We are very worried about this situation and have been looking for a way in which older persons living on their own can get access to help quickly".

Described as a service that brings health and social care directly into the patient's home environment using information and communication technology, TeleCare(tm) is a proven healthcare and security solution with a 30 year track record in Europe.

"Over 3 million elderly in Europe rely on TeleCare(tm) to keep them living independently within their homes. In most cases TeleCare(tm) is subsidised by European governments based on the individual's income" says Anton de Beer, MD - TeleCare(tm) Solutions.

"Apart from saving lives, TeleCare(tm) has been proven to reduce the number of avoidable admissions to hospital, improve the delivery of health care, reduce pressure on both formal and informal care-givers and significantly improve quality of life" says Anton.

As part of the 1 year pilot project which will monitor the efficiency of TeleCare(tm) in South Africa, 25 elderly victims of dementia or stroke living alone within underprivileged communities from the Helderberg municipality (Western Cape) recently received their CareStation(tm), Personal Response Trigger and BuddyBand(tm).

The CareStation(tm), which is the device that enables the TeleCare(tm) service, is linked to a standard telephone line in the home and it can also use a GSM router (cellphone technology) if there is no telephone line. It provides 3 panic buttons on the console that can be used to access health information, or call for help - either to the pre-programmed number of a family member or to the TeleCare(tm) Solutions 24/7 response centre. Each recipient is also supplied with a waterproof Personal Response Trigger that can be worn on the wrist or as a pendant around the neck and which will connect with the response centre when activated within a 200m radius of the CareStation(tm).

Access to help in 60 seconds

For this pilot project, the CareStation(tm) buttons are linked to the ER24 24/7 helpline, the TeleCare(tm) Solutions 24/7 Response Centre and the Department of Social Development 24/7 call centre. The personal records of each recipient is stored at the TeleCare(tm) Solutions 24/7 Response Centre and in the event of a panic alert, a trained Care Specialist will respond to the call within 60 seconds and dispatch help according to the individuals needs.

In addition, all recipients have been provided with a BuddyBand(tm) which is a unique identification bracelet, featuring their individual membership number and the TeleCare(tm) Solutions Response Centre number. Should an emergency occur outside of the home (exceeding the 200m radius of the CareStation(tm)), the wearer can be identified through the bracelet and help summoned via the TeleCare(tm) Response Centre.

"When a person has a stroke, they need to get to a hospital within 3 hours in order to survive. With a 60 second turn-around time from the panic alert to contact with the Reponse Centre, TeleCare(tm) will benefit the victims of stroke enormously - especially for those who live alone and can't afford care-givers" says Loma Coleman, Director - Helderberg Stroke Support Group.

Calling on Corporate's for sponsorship

TeleCare(tm) Solutions, the Western Cape Department of Social Development and NGO's would like to call on corporate's to help fund future TeleCare(tm) projects, or sponsor the provision of the TeleCare(tm) service to individuals within vulnerable communities across the country.

"My husband, who is 82 years old, and I (72 years old) live by ourselves. The children aren't close-by so we are alone virtually all the time. We feel much more at ease now that we have TeleCare(tm) because if we have any kind of problem, there is someone who we can talk to, who knows everything about us, and who can help us immediately. We are not really alone anymore. This is a very good thing" says Mrs Belchem, TeleCare(tm) Pilot Project Recipient -Sir Lowry's Village

"At Dementia SA, we are very excited about this project, because it will bring a higher level of dignity and peace-of-mind to our patients as they will now be able to live independently in a safe and familiar environment" says Karen Borochowitz, Executive Director - Dementia SA
Anton and Charles hope that the TeleCare(tm) intervention will not end with this pilot project, but will be implemented throughout the Western Cape. If it is true that a society can be judged by how it treats its elderly and sick, then the Western Cape is certainly leading the way by bringing quality care to its elderly and vulnerable residents.

For further information or queries regarding participation in these projects, please contact Anton de Beer via email at
or telephonically on 0861 633 644

TeleCare(tm) Solutions services are suitable for anyone that is vulnerable or living alone. TeleCare(tm) Solutions has been deployed throughout numerous retirement villages across South Africa and has made a positive difference to the lives of elderly persons living alone and families living on remote farms throughout the country. Other projects managed by TeleCare(tm) Solutions include a Fall Awareness project which aims to educate elderly and their care-givers, thereby reducing casualties and saving healthcare cost.

For more information about how TeleCare(tm) Solutions can assist you, please visit