Exploring the impact and potential benefits of telecare for carers in Scotland

This project was commissioned by Carers Scotland, with funds from the Scottish Government’s Joint Improvement Team, to look at the impact and potential benefits of telecare for unpaid carers in Scotland. The Scottish Government’s Telecare Strategy made £8m available in 2008-10 to enable local partnerships to extend telecare services to 7,500 new people, to promote the use of telecare, and to ensure telecare services are delivered to recognised standards, enhancing innovation in telecare support.

The study explored when, why and how telecare equipment was being used in Scotland and the direct impacts on carers’ situations. The project examined how carers’ situations were affected when telecare equipment was put in place, how telecare might benefit carers in their caring roles and investigated carers’ views about the impact of telecare on the person they care for.

Throughout the study, we sought to understand how telecare impacted on the caring roles and responsibilities of carers and their own health and wellbeing. The study also included asking carers for their views on the costs involved in using telecare, their views about the types of equipment they had access to and whether they felt telecare had affected their relationship with the person they cared for or with care professionals involved in the caring situation.

The study was completed using a variety of methods including interviews and focus groups with carers, interviews with telecare professionals and those with expertise in the field, observations of telecare delivery (including installation and telecare response teams) and a review of relevant academic and policy literature.

Key findings

The findings of this study identified that the introduction of telecare had been overwhelmingly positive. Carers felt that since the introduction of telecare into their caring situation, they had benefited from more peace of mind, a better night’s sleep, improved the relationship with the person(s) they cared for, the opportunity to continue with activities they might otherwise have to give up, the ability to remain in paid employment in some cases, and more confidence about the safety and comfort of the person they cared for. The carers in the study welcomed the introduction of telecare into their situations.

Project Publications

The final report compiled by Kara Jarrold and Sue Yeandle was completed in December 2009. The report was officially launched at a conference organised by Carers Scotland in Glasgow called ‘A Weight off my Mind: telecare for carers’.

This event was attended by over 300 people and included an opening speech by the Scottish Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon MSP. The final report is available to download here, from Carers Scotland website, and the Scottish Government Joint Improvement Team website.