Thousands of older people in Glasgow could be forced to give up safety alarms after the introduction of charges to the service.
Glasgow City Council’s arms-length company Cordia will next month introduce a £3 per week charge for the community alarm telecare service.
So far, only around 7% of the 13,500 users have indicated they no longer want the service due to cost according to the group themselves, but opposition councillors say up to 3000 will give up the alarm. The withdrawal rate is expected to increase, as 30% withdrew in Edinburgh when charges were introduced.
Any imposed standard charge for this service, to reflect increased costs associated with service delivery, may have a significant impact on the number of service users who will wish to continue receiving this service.
The charge will be means tested, but they are not promoting financial assessments as they believe the vast majority will have to pay and don’t want to raise expectations.
The council have pointed out that 24 of Scotland’s 32 councils now charge for telecare alarm services, and that the charge was brought in to help them reach their target of £50million savings a year.
A spokesman for Age Scotland said:
Should older people be deterred from using an alarm because of cost, the risk is that they sustain an injury that puts them in high-cost hospital or residential care.
Not only does this mean a loss of independence for them, it also means the cost to the public purse is significantly higher in the long run.
Agnes McGroarty, of the Scottish Seniors Alliance, said
It is interesting the council are paying some of the leaders of service providers a six-figure sum when they retire. How can this be justified when the council tell us they have to save £50million?
A council spokesman said:
We believe that a charge of £3 per week is a modest sum in return for the reassurance that people can remain safe and independent while living at home .
We will continue to provide the equipment needed for this service free of charge. Those who feel they may struggle to pay the charge may be eligible for financial assistance.
Source: The Glaswegian