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Helping the elderly remain safe in winter

Staff at Taking Care went the extra mile to keep the 24 hour personal alarm service running to support thousands of vulnerable people across the UK when snow storms and extreme weather battered the UK.

March 05, 2018

Keeping elderly safe in winter

When snow storms and extreme weather battered the UK during February and March 2018, the elderly were most at risk with freezing temperatures increasing the risk of medical emergencies and isolating many vulnerable people from the support they needed.

The 24 hour Response Team at Taking Care worked tirelessly to ensure their life saving service remained open – staff even slept in the Response Centre to ensure no alarm call went unanswered.

Response Centre Operator Jodi Jameson was unable to get home and spent 3 consecutive days and nights at the centre to help keep the service going. Jodi said “Being a single mum I did worry, but my daughter was safe and cared for and that’s what I wanted for our customers too.

Every member of the Response Team had their own story to tell, with sacrifices being made by everyone involved. The dedication of staff, such as trainee Dan Magahy who dug his car out from a snow covered cobbled hill to work through the night, humbled Mike Pope, Head of Operations, who emphasised the difference the service makes. Mike explained “Staff made exceptional effort in the response centre to stay and provide coverage and to deal with issues in our customers time of need. In just one night, we took over a dozen calls requiring paramedic intervention and made fifty 999 calls on behalf of our alarm users.

It is not only medical emergencies that the Response Team dealt with. Marilyn Wedge in the Response Team recalled one particular emergency alarm call: “I spoke to a very frightened lady during one night shift. She was 93 years old and living on her own. She pressed her alarm button because she thought there was an intruder in her house. Our response team answered the alarm and spoke to the lady through the alarm unit speaker. Because the alarm unit is loud, it frightened the intruder off. The police were called and they were able to catch the intruder because they followed his footprints in the snow. He had fallen into a nearby pond.

Staff from other departments were advised to stay at home whilst the conditions were so treacherous but the whole team pulled together, with staff living locally volunteering to hike in with supplies to help keep morale up.

Some of the Response Team stayed at a local hotel in case weather conditions prevented them from getting into work to relieve their colleagues. Managing Director, Richard Turner, ferried staff to and from the Response Centre in his 4x4 vehicle and expressed his pride in the team:

“Many of us have personal experience of older family members relying on personal alarms and panic buttons and know just how much reassurance these services provide to their users and their families. Our Response Team worked heroically and without their professionalism and dedication, the most vulnerable people would have been at even more risk. It makes me feel very proud to work with such wonderful staff and be part of something that makes such a difference.”

Each winter, 1 older person dies every 7 minutes from the cold with health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and falls increasing as the temperature drops.

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