At a meeting on Monday 27 September, Cheshire East Council adults and health committee agreed to implement standardised charging for assistive technology.
Assistive technology (also known as telecare) is used to describe a range of electronic devices which can support residents’ independence to carry on living in their own home and in their local community.
Following an extensive consultation between May and July 2021, it was recommended that people aged 85 and over who are living alone are to be charged £5 per week for the assistive technology service. This is the same charge as all other users currently pay.
The council currently supplies a free service to about ten per cent of the over 85 population in Cheshire East. For the majority of the over 85 population who use other providers or don’t use a telecare service there will be no change.
Anyone who cannot afford to pay will have the opportunity to ask for a financial assessment which may result in them continuing to receive the service for no charge.
The council will support any individual with reduced capacity, to ensure that they would be supported to access a financial assessment should they need to.
Councillor Jill Rhodes, Cheshire East Council’s adults and health committee chair, said: “We are actively supporting older people to achieve a better quality of life by using assistive technology equipment to enable the more vulnerable members of our community to have improved safety, care and independence, all in their own homes.
“When we reviewed the existing charging policy, it was clearly unfair to others to single out those 85 years of age and older and who are living alone for this free benefit.
“The decision to make a comprehensive charging policy means that all users who can afford to pay will pay the same fee and this meets the spirit of the 2014 Care Act which said that charges should be fair. The charge the council makes is cheaper than some private providers and no other council offers a free telecare service.
“With demand increasing each year due in part to the increase of our ageing population, the service also needs to be financially sustainable in the long term.
“By amending the charging policy, it will allow more people to take up the service, and for the scope of the technology to be broadened”.
The council is still looking at the implementation plan for this project, but it is likely letters will be sent out to those affected in October to inform them of the committee decision and provide a timescale for implementation.