Community Link Annual Report

Virtual Reality for Health session

Welcome to our Annual Report for April 2018 to March 2019

Another year has gone by so fast and we are pleased to present this year’s annual report.

According to our figures to date, we are enabling 1733 customers across 205 square miles of the Horsham District and a third of Mid-Sussex to stay safe and independent in their own homes, by providing them with a variety of telecare equipment now known as TEC (Technology Enabled Care).

We would also like to welcome the new 301 customers who have joined the service in the last year, which we are glad to report is more than last year. Thank you all for your continued support in spreading awareness about our service.

Our main provision remains as the lifeline unit and pendant. However, we supply a variety of TEC to meet our customer’s needs. These include, but are not limited to: fall detectors, bed occupancy sensors, motion detectors, extreme temperature sensors, medication dispensers and the Footprint GPS device.

Each case is looked at with the individual at the centre and what outcomes are desired for that person, and would be provided after an assessment with one of our advisers.

Give the gift of an immersive virtual reality experience!

For only £30, you could gift someone 30 minutes of immersive virtual reality fun, to relax or excite, the session can be personalised with scenes including: scuba diving, northern lights, safari watering hole, beaches, luxury yacht, rainforests and a space station.

Gift a loved one a truly unique present with our virtual reality experiences, witness scenes and places you may otherwise not be able to, all for just £30!

Book a Virtual Reality experience

Alternatively, you can book a session by calling 01403 215 230.

Virtual Reality scene

Check out our newly developed web pages

Our team have been working hard over the last few months to move all our information over to Horsham District Council’s new website.

Take a look at our new pages on the website, including new testimonials and a meet the team page!

What is a Key Safe?

A key safe is a robust metal box that is screwed into brickwork. The boxes are weatherproof and provide a secure option to hold a spare key. You choose a personal code for your keysafe and can give this to whoever you'd like to have access to your property, in case of emergency. It's a much safer option than leaving a key hidden outside.

Key safes are ideal for allowing  immediate access to the emergency services in the event that you have fallen, are injured or are unwell and unable to answer the door.

Having a key safe, means you do not have to get multiple keys cut for your nominated key-holders, carer or family members. They would just need to know the code to access the key in order to gain entry to your home.

Community Link highly recommend having a key safe. You can purchase them in hardware stores or we stock two different types that are available for purchase and offer delivery and a 12 month warranty on both.

Police-approved key safe £50.00

Defender key safe £30.00

Please contact the Community Link team on 01403 215230 for further information or to purchase one of our key safes.

*If you do purchase your own key safe please ensure you call us on 01403 215230 to provide us your key safe code so this can be passed on to the emergency services in an emergency.

How are we improving?

We are passionate about continuous improvement, ensuring the service we provide is exactly right to meet our customer’s needs, and more. We like to ensure we are always going the extra mile.

This year there are lots of changes to our working processes, we are going electronic!

What this means for our customers is much less paperwork, and more efficient ways of working which in turn means we can spend more time visiting our customers.

As with previous years, we have attended some events, held meetings and shared good practice with others to see how we can improve. We were very excited to see the new improved technologies that are coming to the market.

The team will always thoroughly test any new technologies before we offer them, this includes having them set up in our own home so that we have experience of how they work, ensuring we are able to give the best advice on what is suitable for each individual.

Our virtual reality for health experience has been a huge success so far. We have purchased a new wireless headset to be more flexible around the person. We will soon be able to use this with people who find it difficult to get out of bed or a chair, and you will be able to have the experience from where you are most comfortable. We are currently researching new scenes so that we can offer more choice – please contact the Community Link Team if you have an idea of an experience you would like to have.

We were very honoured to be finalists for the Impact in Technology Enabled Care Award at the ITEC Awards 2019, hosted by TSA (Technology Enabled Care). This award looks at the improvements and innovations that organisations (internationally, both private and public) have made that will effect change across the whole industry.

Staff update

Lisa Brown - Community Link Adviser

Lisa passed her Level 2 qualification in falls awareness and prevention and has been using her newly found knowledge to give better advice to people on how to stay safe at home and reduce the risk of falling. She attended the TSA conference in Birmingham where she has learnt all about new technology and what is available and what an exciting time it is for our industry! She has been working on a project about social inclusion which she is hoping to get started properly in the new year. This project is to try and reduce loneliness in older people by pairing them up with others in a similar situation, ensuring they have similar interests or hobbies.

Lucy Dowsett - Community Link Administration

Lucy has been our Admin Co-ordinator since August 2017 and is the person you would’ve most likely spoken to if you called the office. However, about a year ago, Lucy began shadowing the advisers on their appointments to gain a better understanding of what they do. This was very successful and it was decided that Lucy would be ‘unchained’ from her desk in the office and released out into the district to carry out her own solo appointments! She is enjoying her new admin/adviser role and being able to get out and about as well as finally being able to put a face on all of the people she's spoken to on the phone over the years.

Charles Ewins - Community Link Administration

This year we have welcomed Charles Ewins to our Community link team to provide administrative assistance giving the rest of the team more time to focus on project work that can be done to improve the quality of our service.

Kerry Killner - Community Link Adviser

This year Kerry has been working alongside Lucy to gain more knowledge on the Admin Co-ordinator role. Some of you may have spoken to her recently when you have phoned into the office! She is also taking a course in Business Administration. Alongside meeting new clients, the highlight of her year has been working to help the team pass our Quality Standards audit, which is important to deliver our service safely to all who use it. We passed with 100%! This coming year she will be working on a digital transformation project to improve how we deliver our service.

Lucie Melvin - Graduate Trainee

This year we have been lucky to welcome Lucie to our team, who will be working with us for for six months on a graduate scheme. She has been working on several projects including a trial for our footprint device, organising a community services event at Horsham District Council and updating parts of our contracts.

Phil Mockett - Community Link Adviser

Phil has studied a Level 2 NVQ qualification in Falls Awareness and Prevention. He has been using this to good effect by passing on advice to our clients to help keep them safe. Phil has also been promoting our service to community groups by delivering presentations on our available technology and how it can help you. In addition to this he has been linking in with all the GP surgeries and their Care Co-ordinators to ensure they are aware of our service and the benefits it can provide.

George Reynhart - Communications and Marketing Apprentice

George is studying a Level 4 Digital Marketing qualification and has been working on our new web-pages.

Community Link team

You and your carer's experience

Every year we will send you a survey to complete, to gain feedback on our service.  It is really important for us to know how you feel and if there are any areas where improvement could be made, to bring you the best quality of Technology Enabled Care. This year gone, 520 of you completed the survey and 99.7% felt that you were satisfied with the service overall. A further 99.6% of you said that our service gives you piece of mind.

We are always really pleased to hear that you are testing your pendants once a month as it is exceptionally important for us to identify any potential faults before emergencies happen. This year 76% of you have regularly tested your pendant, however we are always aiming for 100%.

Testing your pendant helps to extend its lifespan, helps you to understand the process of calling through to the careline and makes sure the pendant is functioning correctly month to month. Remember to mark your test day on your Community Link Wildlife calendar.

Your feedback

Here are some of the feedback highlights we received from your customers surveys throughout the last year.

I feel more protected now than I have ever been. Thank you for providing such a wonderful service.

When I have set my alarm off before they have always been very understanding and very friendly.

Very helpful person and explained everything clearly. I was very pleased with the whole package.


As a team we are very proud of the service we provide for our community and have not received any official complaints this year. We are continually looking for ways to improve and value all the feedback that we receive. If you would like to talk to us about the service you are receiving, please call us on 01403 215230 or email Alternatively you can write to us at Community Link team, Parkside, Chart Way, Horsham, RH12 1RL.

A number of comments from the survey highlighted issues that customers wanted addressed, we always directly contact those that make these comments to address their issue. These are listed below:

“Suggestion: A smoke alarm testing service? Phil Mockett tested them for me recently - I cannot reach them.”

We understand that regular testing of smoke alarms is not always easy due to their location, however it is very important. To support this we test smoke alarms during all of our service calls, and advise that you ask any visitors to help you test them on a monthly basis.

“Long wait times for ambulance”

Any wait for help can feel like a long time, we know that having our service can ensure a smoother request for help. We regularly share feedback, stats and information with our partners from the NHS, West Sussex County Council, South East Coat Ambulance and the voluntary sector to look for improvements. We are focusing especially on a project for those who fall without injuries.

“The control centre delayed in informing my next of kin of incidents”

The control centre will always call the ambulance or the appropriate help that is needed first in an emergency. The next of kin will be informed as soon as this has been completed.

“I am unable to hear the control centre from the unit when outside, or in another room”

We raise this at every event that we attend with our lifeline provider requesting that a speech module be added. The provider has advised that this is something they are researching.

“It should be free!”

Due to the cease of supporting people funding, we are unable to offer this service for free as we need to cover our running costs and pay the call centre. However, we ensure that we are comparable with other neighbouring Local Authorities and have not raised our prices in six years.

How did we do?

Every year the independent body TSA (TEC Services Association) audits us to see how we are doing. We are very proud to say that for the second year in a row we received the highest score possible for our service, with no improvements required.

Response times for emergency calls

Our lifeline units are monitored by Chichester Careline and our Footprints are monitored by Provide Carecall in Essex.

Between April 2018 and March 2019:

Chichester Careline received 13427 calls from our customers, with 98% of those calls being answered under a minute.

Provide Carecall received 419 from our customers, with 97% of those calls being answered under a minute.

Did you know?

There are lots of existing technologies that you or your family could already be using, such as WhatsApp or Facebook. Did you know these could be used to help with your daily living. Such as setting up a group or a chat to help monitor your shopping, medication and organising appointments.

We are very lucky that West Sussex Fire and Rescue offer a free service where they can install a smoke detector, which is programmed to work with your community link alarm. This sends a message to the control centre if your smoke alarm is activated. They will speak to you through the unit to check it wasn’t accidental (a kitchen disaster for example!) and if it wasn’t, they will dispatch the fire service. If you do not have a linked in smoke detector and you would like one, please contact us and we'll be more than happy to complete a referral for you. If you do have one please make sure you test it once a month along with your pendant.

Importance of testing your pendant

We encourage you to test your pendant once a month. There are two reasons for doing this, firstly for your own peace of mind. Secondly, it's important to keep the battery active as after a long period of inactivity will send a message to the call centre. Please don’t worry if you forget to test your pendant. All you have to do is press the pendant and when the call centre answers please let them know that you are performing your monthly test. Our advisers will change your pendant and back-up battery in the unit every 5 to 7 years. We regularly check to ensure we are visiting clients well before the expiration date of your pendant and back up battery.

The backup battery is there in case of a power cut and will last for up to 40 hours (it also recharges itself once it has mains power).

Important: Always wear your pendant as this will ensure you can call for help if you need to.

The Footprint

What is it?

The Footprint is a location tracking device and mobile phone, all in one. It provides reassurance and safety whilst giving you independence. The device can be carried by active and vulnerable people such as those living with dementia, mobility issues, victims of domestic violence and lone workers.

They show genuine concern and talk to you in a way that makes you feel safe when in pain.

How does it work?

Using GPS and GPRS tracking, it allows for instant location in case of emergency, for example, in the case a person with dementia has wandered.

The tracking system uses Google Maps location and is easily accessed on any smartphone, computer or our control centre with password recognition to allow for instant location in case of emergency.

Although it’s a mobile phone, it has additional features such as geo-fencing, speed sensors and fall alerts meaning that it can be used for a variety of client’s needs.


The Footprint is made personal to the client. Customers can choose from a range of colours and it can be linked to at least one smartphone, which will control its use and receive any alarms.

Footprint colour range graphic

How much does it cost?

To have the control centre monitor it 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it is £22.50 a month plus VAT (if applicable).

If you have nominated people who can monitor it such as carers or family members we are able to provide it at a lesser charge of £15.82 a month plus VAT (if applicable).

Handy tips to prevent falls

  1. Keeping active helps reduce the chance of muscles weakening, which would increase the chance of a fall.
  2. Check and remove clutter from all floors around your home.
  3. Don’t leave objects on the stairs.
  4. Have your sight and hearing tested regularly.
  5. Drink regularly to keep hydrated especially during hot weather.
  6. Ensure you are self-administering medication properly, a pharmacy can advise you if you are unsure.
  7. Use walking aids around the home and garden if needed – don’t take the sneaky chance!
  8. Check your footwear to ensure the soles are not worn and frayed – treat yourself to some new sturdy slippers – we have a few free available so call us with your shoe size and we may be able to supply some for FREE!
  9. Visit the GP in good time if your health deteriorates as this can affect mobility.
  10. Ensure all rooms are adequately lit, especially when getting up in the middle of the night.
  11. Taking particular care in the bathroom, statistically the most dangerous room in the house (don’t forget your red button is waterproof!).

Please test your Pendant after a thunderstorm

On rare occasions, following extreme thunder and lightning storms, we have had an increase of malfunctioning equipment reports. If this does happen please give us a call on 01403 215230 between 9-5, Monday to Friday. Alternatively, you can call the call centre on 01243 778688 at weekends or bank holidays.

One of our advisers will visit you and replace the damaged equipment free of charge.

Looking to the future

We are very proud of what we achieve and all the help we have been able to give. However we are always looking to do more! We intend to hold our user forum slightly differently this year, as we would like more of you to be able to attend.

We will be hosting two user forum sessions on:

Session 1 - Tuesday 25 February, 10.30am-12pm at Park Barn in Horsham  

Session 2 - Wednesday 26th February, 10:30am-12pm at Sullington Village Hall

There will be coffee and cake as usual. We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, please contact the Community Link team on 01403 215230 to register for attendance so we know how much tea and cake to provide!

We are working with partners from the NHS, West Sussex County Council, South East Coat Ambulance and the voluntary sector to look at how we can improve the wait time for our clients who have fallen over, without suffering an injury, but can’t get back up.

We have an exciting new database which will free up more of our advisers time. Instead of having to complete paper forms they will have access to tablets which will transfer client information to the call centre immediately.

We are currently trialling new wire free virtual reality equipment for clients to use. We are planning to introduce more virtual reality scene options by using more advanced programmes. We are very excited about our work with Virtual Reality with its’ renowned benefits to improving health.

We are always looking at new technology to help our clients. One of the systems we have been putting to the test collates information on an individual over a set period and can actually predict when they are at most risk of falling.

We are trialling new lifeline stand-alone speakers so more rooms in the house can be covered.

We always research new technology options for our clients depending on individual circumstances.

Note: As part of our due diligence we have spoken to our suppliers to ensure there will be no service disruption in the wake of Brexit and do not foresee any related issues.

Working with HDC event