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Note to Editors: In addition to the information below, we also have case study stories, a story on the topline results of a survey of the elderly conducted by Alertacall and released today and a good selection of high res j-pegs. See contact details at bottom.

A revolutionary new service that confirms the safety of loved ones is being launched in Britain.

Thought to be a world first, Alertacall is a simple and low cost new way for families or friends to keep a daily check on elderly or frail relatives who lead independent lives but live alone.

“Some 3.5 million people live alone, but more frighteningly 32 people die alone and unnoticed in their home every day*” says James Batchelor, the brains behind Alertacall and a ‘concerned’ grandson himself.

James realised his own concerns were shared by millions of other people across Britain with more vulnerable home family members who live on their own. As well as the elderly, this might include disabled people living independently – or simply someone living alone and recovering from an illness or operation.

“Lots of people at an increased risk by living alone are actually quite independent and lead quite busy lives – which makes it even more difficult to keep in touch,” say James. Alertacall’s research suggests that a lot of elderly people living on their own are reluctant to wear pendants or have panic buttons installed in their home as they simply don’t see themselves as being in the ‘at risk’ category and find the idea of these devices akin to an admission of defeat. What’s more, many other systems rely on the elderly person actually pressing a button to call for help – but what happens if they’re not in a position to do so?

Now, thanks to his new service, James knows, on a daily basis, that grandma Evelyn is doing fine. All she has to do is press a special button on her Alertacall phone by an agreed time each day and the system knows she is safe and well. Should she fail to press the button, then Alertacall first tries to call Evelyn to check she is OK – and if they can’t reach her they continue to call up to three nominated people to alert them to the fact there may be a problem.

"With Alertacall, families know that unless they hear otherwise, their loved
one is OK. This is ideal for people who may not want to make a nuisance of
themselves by calling every day or who lead such busy lives they are not
able to check on their loved ones all the time," says James.

For just £9.99 a month people who are worried about living alone or their families can sign up to the Alertacall service. Set up costs – which include a special Alertacall phone featuring extra big buttons – are covered by a one-off payment of £25. The service can be cancelled at any time, so there are no long or complicated contracts to worry about, and the user keeps the phone.

“The monthly membership equates to the price of a pizza and for that, families can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that the well being of someone they care about is being monitored on a daily basis,” says James.

Anyone who would like more information should contact Alertacall on 0808 156 5777 or visit
*Figures Age Concern and Data Digest - A True Vision production for Channel 4, broadcast May 2002.


THE ALERTACALL REPORT: Some facts and figures

 Men aged 60 and over who live alone are much less likely to be visited by relatives than women. 30.8% of men said they are rarely visited by relatives who live nearby as opposed to 9.1% of women over 60.
 More than a third (36.4%) of women aged 60 and over who live alone worry that they may die and no-one will know.
 People aged over 60 and living alone in Scotland and the South East spend more time on their own than those in other parts of the country with 40% of respondents from both areas saying they spend 100+ hours a week alone.
 People in the South West aged 60 and over are more likely than those in other parts of the country to receive a daily phone call from a member of their family. But while 71.4% of those in the South West get a call each day, just 25% of those living in the North West and West Midlands do.
 In London, the greatest fear of people aged over 60 and living alone is that they could be burgled or attacked and no-one will know. More than nine out of 10 respondents reported this as their biggest concern. In the North West the biggest worry (75%) is dying and no-one knowing; in Scotland (80%) it’s having a fall or accident and no-one knowing; in the West Midlands (75%) it’s being ill and no-one knowing.
 The loneliest people aged 60 and over and living alone are in the South East where 90% of respondents said they experience loneliness. The highest proportion of people spending Christmas and Birthdays alone (nearly a third, 30%) also came from this area.
 Well over half (58.4%) of people aged 60 and over and live alone regard themselves as either highly independent or very active. A further 37.5% regard themselves as fairly active.
 More than a third (34.9%) of people with relatives aged 60 and over who live alone admitted they spend no time at all with them each week. More than half (57.1%) said they don’t visit as often as they could or should and nearly two-thirds (65.1%) said they feel guilty about it.
 Nearly two-thirds (63%) of people with older relatives living alone rely on friends, neighbours and other members of their family to let them know if anything untoward happens. One in six (16.5%) have no arrangements in place and would have to drive over personally if they failed to answer the phone.
 People aged between 26 and 35 are the least likely to spend time with elderly relatives with nearly half (47.1%) admitting they spend no time at all each week with them. The people who spend most time with them are those aged 51 and over: nearly three-quarters of those questioned spend between one and five hours a week with elderly relatives.
 People aged between 36 and 50 are the most likely to make a daily telephone call to elderly relatives living alone with a third (34.7%) of them doing so.

 More than two thirds (70.8%) of 18-25 year olds feel they could or should have more contact with elderly relatives with nearly four out of five of them feeling guilty about it. Yet this age group appear to make the most effort when it comes to seeing elderly relatives at Christmas or on their birthdays. Two-thirds (66.7%) said they always see them on these special days.
 Women are more likely than men to spend large amounts of time each week with elderly relatives who live alone with nearly one in10 of respondents (9.6%) saying they spend more than 15 hours a week with them compared to 5.6% of men doing the same. Men are more likely to spend between one and five hours a week with elderly relatives with 43.9% doing so.
 Women are more likely to phone an elderly relative living alone every day (one in four/24.4%) whereas men are more likely to phone once a week (42.1%).
 Men (50.5%) feel nearly as torn as women (58.7%) when it comes to the difficulty of juggling work and children with the responsibility of looking out for an elderly relative.
 Women are most worried (45.9%) that elderly relatives living alone will feel lonely whereas men worry more (38.3%) that they will fall or have and accident and no-one will know.
 People working in human resources are less likely than people in other occupations to live close to elderly relatives with just one in eight (12.5%) reporting they live close by. People in this occupation are also among the least likely to spend any time at all each week with elderly relatives. 62.5% visit them just two or three times a year and phone once a month.
 People in legal work who live far away from elderly relatives are most likely to try and visit on a weekly basis (50%) while those in science, recruitment, telecommunications, health, nursing and social services are the most likely to call them on a daily basis.
 People in the North East are more likely than people living in other parts of the country to live close to an elderly relative living alone with 78.9% of those questioned saying they did.
 42.9% of Scottish respondents with elderly relatives who live alone admit they spend no time at all each week with them.
 More people (53.3%) in Yorkshire and Humberside than anywhere else said they spend up to half a day a week (1-5 hours) with elderly relatives.
 People in Northern Ireland who live far away from elderly relatives living alone are more likely (50%) than those living anywhere else in the country, to make weekly visits.
 The Welsh are better than anyone else at keeping in touch by phone with elderly relatives living alone. 37.5% of respondents from Wales call daily while 56.3% call weekly.
 People living in East Anglia feel the guiltiest about the frequency with which they call or visit elderly relatives living alone. One in four (24%) respondents said they feel very guilty while a further 52% feel a little guilty. That’s three out of four feeling some degree of guilt!

Study for Alertacall conducted by 72 Point Ltd. 1,973 respondents took part in an on-line poll between September 2-16 2005..


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