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Upgrade to monitored medical alarm service

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Older South Australian at risk of falls or needing immediate emergency response will be able to choose from a wider, upgraded range of monitored personal alert devices after a change to the state government backed Personal Alert SA scheme.

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Under the scheme introduced in 2011, a monitored personal alert device is available for eligible South Australians aged over 75 years, or 65 years old for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, who are at risk of falls and have a major medical or chronic condition that requires urgent emergency response.

There are currently 14,000 clients, who must meet certain criteria relating to approved services under My Aged Care.

From February 1, clients will be able to choose from five new subsidised “next generation” personal alert devices with 4G GPS monitoring and options including pendant models and smart watches.

Clients who want to keep their existing monitored devices can do so, with the state government saying the changes won’t lead to monitoring of any current systems being switched off, as current suppliers will continue to provide the monitoring services under the new scheme.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said the scheme’s overhaul was driven by feedback from clients, their families and advocacy from peak bodies, as well as the impending shutdown of the 3G network.

“Personal alert device technology has advanced rapidly in recent years and the State Government committed to reviewing the scheme in order to provide older South Australians access to a greater choice of personal alert devices to suit their needs,” Lensink said.

The Department of Human Services appointed Tunstall Healthcare and MePACS to supply devices from February 1 following a competitive tender process.

Personal AlertSA will offer a rebate of up to $380 for personal alert devices and $200 for monitoring services.

“Many older people remain active in the community and we want to encourage and increase their independence with the help of these devices,” Lensink said.

“Under the new and improved Personal AlertSA scheme, we have been able to broaden our offering to ensure we have a range of modern devices that are reliable and easy to use.

“New features include devices with falls detection, 4G GPS systems which may be monitored by friends and family or a monitoring centre, base unit and pendant models and smart technology, such as 4G smart watches.

“Throughout this process, customers have been at the centre of all decision-making to ensure their feedback is addressed and needs are met.”

COTA SA CEO Jane Mussared said the updated scheme reflected feedback provided by her organisation and its stakeholders, which called for the next generation of personal alert system technology to be offered.

“People want technology that enables them to move about their community with confidence, that is simple to use and is up to date,” she said.

“We also wanted to see consideration of wearability and style, so it’s pleasing to see there are options such as the pendant around the neck, through to a smart watch around the wrist.”

The government said devices would be provided fully assembled and programmed by the supplier, dispatched within 24 hours of order, and tested in conjunction with the customer to ensure good working order.

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