Telecare equipment to monitor patients in their homes

Rebecca McQuillan

12 Jul 2010

Despite suffering from daily seizures, Angela Stark can live at home, monitored by carers. Pic: Stewart Attwood

Angela Stark never knows when she’s about to have an epileptic seizure.

“One minute I could be standing, the next I could be down on the floor,” she says. The 40-year-old from Cowdenbeath might be in her sitting room, surrounded by glass ornaments, or lying in bed, but a seizure is always risky. She is prone to tonic chlonic seizures, probably the most serious type, which first make the body go stiff and then cause the limbs to jerk. Angela has one every week. They can cause injury and difficulty breathing; sometimes, if they go on for more than five minutes, she needs medical help.

Yet Angela lives alone. How can she manage to do that? Because of telecare guardian angel gadgets throughout her home, which ensure she is watched over remotely 24 hours a day. They can detect when Angela is having a fit so that a carer can be sent to help her.

Angela, who was diagnosed six years ago, relies on two devices in particular. The first is a bed mat that detects sudden repeated bumps indicating that she is having a seizure. She’s lost count of the number of times it has been activated. Sometimes it takes five minutes for the carer to arrive, sometimes 15 minutes, but for Angela, the important thing is knowing that someone will come to her aid.

“It’s a lifesaver,” she says solemnly. “It’s so important because I might have fallen out of bed. Sometimes they have to get the paramedics out. If I just kept fitting, that could be it.”

She also has a fall trigger pendant, on a cord round her neck. If it is knocked horizontal, indicating she may have fallen, it sends a wireless signal to a detector unit, which alerts call handlers via a phone line. The emergency team immediately call to speak to Angela; if they get no response, they send someone straight round.

“The pendant and bed sensor have given me real peace of mind,” says Angela. “They’re brilliant. People wouldn’t be able to live on their own if this equipment didn’t exist.”

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