How Careline is saving lives in Slough

James Hockaday

James Hockaday

How Careline is saving lives in Slough

Through a click of a button about 1,800 of Slough’s vulnerable and elderly residents are instantly connected to a high-tech centre whenever they are in trouble.

Careline is a sleek operation allowing users to press a button, either on a box-like unit connected to their phone line, or on a wireless pendant, to contact the Bath Road centre.

Although most Careline calls are related to health problems, the service, which was merged with the borough’s CCTV centre in 2006, also offers its users a crucial lifeline in cases when clients need urgent police assistance.

“It’s basically a wireless device but it’s more simple than a phone, it acts like a walkie-talkie,” says Carline’s manager Peter Webster.

“It’s easy to set up and use, it’s pretty fire-and-forget and they never really go wrong.”

On March 29, a 79-year-old Careline user living in Upton alerted the team when a man broke into her house and screamed at her to give him money, before leaving with cash, debit cards, handbags and personal documents.

Careline swiftly informed the police who provided immediate assistance.

CCTV footage at the Bath Road centre was examined the following day by police to trace the offender, who was swiftly charged and is due to be sentenced at Reading Crown Court next month.

Careline, which was launched in the borough 30 years ago, also helps save lives.

“We had a man from Langley who called us but his radio was playing loudly so we couldn’t hear what was happening,” said Peter.

“He didn’t have anyone on his contacts list so I called the police radio and a police officer said he was around the corner.

“We gave him a key card; he got in and found him lying on the bathroom floor.”

Since December 2015, Slough Borough Council has also been running a year-long trial of an extension of the service where council respondents can go to client’s houses to make an assessment of their well-being and ensure they can safely live independently.

“We’ve saved a least 35 paramedic calls a month with the trial so more paramedics are available for serious cases,” says Peter.  

Careline, which costs £160 a year, is also offered to elderly hospital patients following health scares.

The Careline box unit and pendants can be given to patients on the day they are discharged, giving them a support network as soon as they get home.

Peter added that the service also goes the extra mile and tries to tackle loneliness amongst the Borough’s elderly residents.

“Our system usually tells us when our client’s birthdays are,” he said.

“The operators call them and wish them happy birthday and they absolutely love it.”

A free three-month trial is offered to all new customers of the service.

“We’ve had letters from clients saying ‘thanks, you’ve saved my life,” says Peter about the overall impact Careline has on the Slough Community.  

“It’s peace of mind. Press on the button and someone will come and help you.”

Call Careline on 01753 535622 for more information.

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