Six hundred million people of the world’s population are over 60 years old. In Spain alone, there are around eight million people over 65; close to six million of them have some degree of dependence, whether it is slight, heavy or total. Ninety-two per cent of elderly people who live alone wish to continue to do so. To help people to stay independent for as long as possible, Telefónica and SARquavitae have created a mobile care service called “Te acompaña”.
This integrated communication system for people who are dependent, disabled or in a situation of risk will serve to manage any incidents that might occur, such as falls, getting lost, or other kinds of emergency. Service users will be provided with a mobile device fitted with a SIM card and remotely connected to a care centre. The device includes features such as a panic button, a fall sensor, a sensor that detects when a person moves out of secure area, and a low-battery indicator. The user, their family or carers can set up the system’s alarms as they require.
If a person tends to get disoriented and leaves a previously established secure area, an alarm will inform professionals at the care centre, who will then call the person to check whether help is actually required. All the professionals are social or health workers who will follow a certain protocol when each alert is received: speak to the users by phone, inform carers, or send emergency services if necessary.
“Te acompaña” includes two kinds of telephone calls: response calls made by the device itself when it detects a risk situation that could require emergency action; and proactive calls, made at least twice a month by the centre’s professionals to contact the user and find out about their general state of health. Monitoring includes reminders to keep medical appointments or take medication, as well as other support tasks. The care centre is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and covers users whether they are in or out of their homes.
The service is linked to a webpage where users can configure the system according to their preferences. It also offers the opportunity to geolocate the person holding the device, when this option is activated. “Te acompaña” has been designed particularly to meet the needs of elderly people who are dependent to some degree. However, it could also be useful for people who live in a rural environment or do sports in isolated areas (trekkers, cyclists, mountaineers or skiers), children, adolescents, informal and professional carers, and victims of gender violence. The service is the result of cooperation between the telecommunications company Telefónica and SARquavitae, a company in the social and health care sector.