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Transition from Analogue to Digital for Telecare Services in Scotland
Telecare services in Scotland are a part of the UK’s telephony network. Both the network and the alarms, are almost exclusively analogue. In the near future the analogue telephony infrastructure will transition into a digital infrastructure (pending approval from Ofcom), which may have an impact on current analogue services running through the network.
The Digital Health & Care Institute, in partnership with The Local Government Digital Office, Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare (SCTT) and The Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Programme want to seek your views on work that has been progressed to scope current provision of telecare services in Scotland, along with some early considerations on shifting provision from analogue to digital. We are keen to get your early input and expertise into what this would mean for businesses and organisations in Scotland. While the focus of the attached report is on Local Authority provided or commissioned community alarm/telecare services across Scotland we would also like to hear your views on any wider corporate implications of this work.
The Scottish Government, via the Scottish Centre for Telehealth & Telecare, has undertaken some investigation into the feasibility of a shift from existing telecare provision onto a digital infrastructure and commissioned an independent feasibility study by Farrpoint Ltd. The feasibility study was developed in two stages, with the first part published in October 2015. This provided a definition of digital telecare, summarised the current digital status of telecare solutions in Scotland and examined the potential benefits of a move to digital telecare.
This report concluded that none of the 26 contact centres operating in Scotland (22 of which are based within Local Authorities) currently provide a fully end-to-end digital Telecare service, although some providers have been upgrading their Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC's) to offer a limited degree of digital capability. The second part of the feasibility study involved developing an implementation guide and proposals for designing pilot sites for the transfer from analogue to digital.
As the report details, there are three main options presented in supporting telecare services:
Do nothing - essentially, this is a case of continue as we are just now with routine upgrades provided as and when required by individual systems and devices standard life cycle. This would involve Scotland waiting until BT received approval from Ofcom to start the process of switching our telephony system to digital and waiting to see if that caused any adverse impact (as per the experiences in Sweden).
Standalone upgrade to end-to-end digital telecare - this would involve all services remaining as they are, but instead of each ARC carrying out a routine upgrade they would start the process of moving straight to a digital solution – but on a piecemeal area by area basis.
Redesigned clustered approach – this would allow for shared services across local authorities, although to what extent would need to be determined/agreed.
9.00 am - Registration and coffee
9.30 am - Welcome & introduction - Martyn Wallace
9.45 am - Technology Enabled Care Programme - Alistair Hodgson
10.00 am - Local Government Digital Agenda - Martyn Wallace
10.15 am - Ofcom - The National Story - Huw Saunders
10.45 am - Farrpoint - The Scottish Story - Richard Parkinson
11.15 am - Coffee
11.35am - Developing Scotland's Strategic Response - Facilitated open discussion - Martyn Wallace
12.20 pm - Summary of next steps - Martyn Wallace
12.30 - Close and refreshments (Mince pies and Mulled wine)