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Are you or a loved one at risk of a fall?

Every 10 seconds, a loved one in the UK has a fall. Find out your risk score in 2 minutes.

How fall alarms work

Some Taking Care personal alarms include built-in fall detection. These fall alarms automatically make an alarm call to our Emergency Resolution Team when a hard, uninterrupted fall is detected.

Like all fall alarms on the market, there are some types of falls that will not trigger a call from your Taking Care fall alarm.

We look at how fall alarms work and under what circumstances a fall may not trigger an alarm call. This guide is also available to download in PDF format.

 

How fall detection works

Fall alarms consist of sensors, typically accelerometers and gyroscopes, and a sophisticated algorithm designed to react to a sudden free fall from a standing position, followed by a significant impact and no movement.

The algorithm is designed to balance sensitivity with practicality. Too many false alarms from moving around or sitting down would be impractical and counter-productive, disrupting the wearer and discouraging them from using the fall alarm.

What happens in a fall

When someone falls from a standing position, several things quickly happen to detect a fall:

  • The sensors detect the change in air pressure from a falling motion.
  • The algorithm determines if an alarm call should be made, typically using the strength of the downward motion, the change in air pressure, the impact or shock at the end of the fall and the immediate period after the impact. If there is insufficient movement after impact, this confirms a fall has occurred and is not a false alarm.
  • When the falls criteria is met, the fall alarm automatically makes an alarm call without any intervention required. The Emergency Resolution Team will answer the alarm call and will know who is calling and where they are.

 

Why a fall may not be detected

Certain types of falls are less likely to trigger the fall detection algorithm criteria.

This is true of all fall alarm products available and for this reason we always recommend pressing the button on the fall alarm pendant to call for help if possible.

  • Some types of falls may not be detected such as slumping or falling from a sitting position, or if the fall is broken, such as if the wearer holds on to something.
  • Wearing the personal fall alarm inside clothing, including a jumper or coat, can restrict the sensor's functionality. The fall alarm needs to move freely to detect a fall and clothing can restrict this. Therefore, your fall alarm should always be worn outside of clothing.
  • Falling backwards may not be detected because the pendant is protected from the change in air flow and pressure. For this reason, backward falls are less likely to be detected when the pendant is worn around the neck.
  • Similarly, wrist-worn fall alarms may be affected if the arms are cradled to the chest or covered by clothing during a fall.
  • The height of the person can also affect whether a fall is detected. The algorithm may not trigger an alarm call if the person wearing the fall alarm is less than 1.2 metres / 4 feet tall.

 

Product-specific limitations

Falls pendant

  • The Taking Care Anywhere location-aware pendant must be worn around the neck for the fall detection algorithm to work as intended. This is because the pendant must be able to freely detect the movement of a fall.
  • Mobile devices, including GPS devices such as the Taking Care Anywhere location-aware pendant, should not be worn around the neck if you have a pacemaker. For this reason, if you have a pacemaker, we will disable the fall alarm functionality when you order Taking Care Anywhere and you should not wear the device around your neck.

 

False alarms

False alarms can still be triggered, despite the clever technology. Rest assured, the Emergency Resolution Team will answer all calls and a false alarm is a good opportunity for our team to check the equipment is working and the alarm user is well.

A false alarm may be triggered by:

  • Movement that is similar to a fall.
  • Not wearing the fall alarm as recommended and in a way that makes it more prone to misinterpreting movement.

Very rarely, a false alarm may be due to faulty equipment. If you have any concerns, let us know and we will replace the fall alarm if it is not working correctly.


How to cancel a fall alarm call

Fall alarm calls can be cancelled by the alarm user.

Taking Care Anywhere:

  • The Taking Care Anywhere location-aware pendant has a pre-call sequence when a fall is detected
  • The pre-alarm will sound for 10 seconds, announce “Fall detected” and the pendant will flash
  • This gives the alarm user the opportunity to cancel the call by pressing and holding the button on the front until the location-aware pendant announces “Cancelled”

Digital Fall Alarm:

  • When the Digital Fall Alarm detects a fall, the pendant will beep as it makes the alarm call
  • The call can be cancelled during the first 15 seconds by shaking the pendant from side to side until it is silent

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I test the fall alarm or simulate a fall so I know that it works?

We do not recommend this because of the sophistication of the fall detection algorithm. Testing your fall alarm quarterly by pressing the pendant button and speaking with the Emergency Resolution Team is sufficient.

Can the sensitivity of the fall alarm be adjusted?

It is not possible to adjust the fall alarm sensitivity yourself. We recommend contacting our Customer Services Team if the fall alarm is too sensitive. If the device is faulty, we will supply a replacement fall alarm free of charge.

Do different fall alarm products vary in sensitivity?

Different fall alarm products may use slightly different algorithms and sensors, however most work in a similar way. By testing new products as they become available, we are confident our fall alarms provide the best possible fall detection.

Do I need to keep the fall alarm pendant clean?

It is normally sufficient to wipe the pendant with a dry cloth in most circumstances if it becomes dirty. Water or cleaning products may damage the pendant.

How often should I test my fall alarm?

We recommend that all our personal alarms are tested quarterly by pressing the pendant button and speaking with the Emergency Resolution Team. There is no need to perform any additional tests with a fall alarm. We suggest choosing an easy to remember date, such as the day of your birthday or another memorable event.

Do fall alarms need time to learn how the wearer moves?

No, fall alarms work straight out-of-the box and do not need to be specifically configured for each user.

 

Who can benefit from having an alarm with automatic fall detection?

Fall alarms and elderly fall alerts are particularly valuable to someone who lives alone or has a history of falls. An immediate response is crucial, especially if the person is unable to get up or call for help themselves. A faster response can prevent medical complications and improve health outcomes. Without assistance, someone may not be found until a carer visit or welfare check. In some instances, this can be days. Hypothermia, dehydration, blood loss and fractures are a real danger and unfortunately falls can be fatal. Data from Age UK’s “Later Life in the United Kingdom” show falls result in the equivalent of thirteen deaths per day in the UK. The reassurance a fall alarm provides is invaluable to family members and their older loved ones, providing the confidence to remain living independently and safely at home for longer.

 

How to contact us

Our Customer Services Team are happy to help if you have a query about your fall alarm. Call freephone 0800 085 7371, 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday, or contact us by email.

Call 0800 085 7371