Social alarms to telecare
Older people’s services in transition

One: Introduction: what are social alarms?


This book explores the topic of social alarms. It does so mainly in relation to services in Great Britain and Ireland. However, it also provides an international overview and comparison of such technologies and related services.

The international perspective includes the United States, the country within which, along with Great Britain, social alarm technologies initially developed. It also includes more than 20 other countries throughout much of Europe, North America and most of the developed world.

A number of key issues regarding social alarms are addressed and social alarm service provision internationally is mapped. No other study has attempted to do this or has brought together such an extensive range of material on the topic.

First of all it is necessary to state what social alarms are. In all countries they can be seen, at their simplest, as devices that can help to support the independent living of their users. This is the oft-quoted primary aim of social alarm services. Indeed, the words independent living and independence feature in much of the literature concerning social alarms and are very prominent in publicity material produced by social alarm manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. The main competing perspectives are those that are concerned with the more specific roles of social alarms in offering security and in providing help in emergencies.

The affirmations concerning supporting independent living, offering security and providing help in emergencies have been and are frequently accompanied by imagery associated with such objectives. This, on the one hand, offers pictures of healthy and happy older people that are suggestive of active and independent lifestyles; and, on the other hand, feature the frailest and most vulnerable.

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