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Assistive technology

There are 2 types of assistive technology available which can be used either independently or as combined assistance. They are community alarms and telecare.

Community alarms

Community alarm systems have a pendant or wristband the individual can wear that connects to a telephone line through a base unit. If help is needed, the individual can get help by pressing the button on the pendant which can either be worn around the neck or as a wristband.

Currently, there are a range of different alarms monitoring arrangements in place across the county based on each district authority area.

There is usually a charge for community alarms; how much will depend on your local provider:

  • Amber Valley – Futures housing Group tel: 0300 456 2531
  • Bolsover – Bolsover District Council tel: 01246 242309
  • Chesterfield – Chesterfield Borough Council tel: 0300 303 3378
  • Derbyshire Dales – In-house Adult Care Contracts tel: 03330 143389
  • Erewash – In-house Adult Care Contracts tel: 03330 143389
  • High Peak – High Peak Borough Council tel: 01298 813395
  • North East Derbyshire –Adult Care Contracts tel: 0300 303 3378
  • South Derbyshire – South Derbyshire District Council tel: 01283 228789


Telecare equipment can be used throughout the home to support individuals with identified social care needs and their carers. It is usually supported by a base unit connected to a telephone line and automatically raises an alert when help is needed. Examples of some of the telecare equipment are bed and chair occupancy sensors, falls detector, property exit sensors, smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.

Telecare can help if you're worried about:

  • feeling safe at home
  • the consequences of falling
  • becoming forgetful

Assistive technology can provide peace of mind for you and your carers and is able to provide assistance whenever it's needed, 24 hours a day.

How assistive technology works

To access the service, you'll need a telephone line and a nearby mains socket for the Lifeline unit. Most sensors are wireless and battery powered, and will be provided and installed for you.

When a sensor detects a problem, for example a fall, it sends a signal to the Lifeline unit. This unit automatically dials the response centre. The specially trained staff can speak to the user using the speaker on the Lifeline and arrange appropriate assistance. This may involve calling a carer, a mobile warden or the emergency services.

How to access the service

Assistive technology can form part of a care and support package or can be arranged privately. If you already have a care and support package in place, speak to your adult care worker.

If you haven't got a package, please contact your local community alarm provider, or ring Call Derbyshire on 01629 533190 to ask for an assessment.

Analogue to digital switchover

Assistive technology in Derbyshire has largely relied on landlines to plug the community alarm into for connection to a monitoring service. However, in 2017 BT announced plans to turn off their analogue telephone network known as Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN) and switch to using a faster digital system known as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN).

Work has already started, and BT aim to permanently switch off the old network by 2025. This change will affect everyone who uses a landline telephone and will therefore affect our customers who have a community alarm or telecare. This is because our community alarms connect to a monitoring service via a telephone line.

Reasons for the switch to digital

The change from analogue to digital aims to benefit everyone and supports the government’s ambition for everyone in the UK to have access to full fibre or gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.

Existing analogue landline telephones (PSTN) rely on copper wires and this is slow and costly. The arrival of the internet has placed an additional strain on the system as people need data to be transferred faster.

As a Nation we are also using landline telephones less and mobile phones more.

How the new system will work

The new digital system uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. This allows us to make telephone calls via the internet, in the same way as how Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom work. This is much cheaper, and the connections are faster because there is no reliance on physical wires. Since the data is transferred digitally this means when you press your pendant, your call will be received much more quickly saving valuable seconds.

What this means for you, our customers

From 2025 landline telephones will not plug into a socket on the wall, they will plug into your wi-fi or broadband router instead and work via an internet connection.

The switch over to digital will not happen all at once. Your telecom and internet provider will contact you when the switchover is due to take place in your area. They will supply you with a home hub / router and an analogue telephone adapter (ATA). This will allow you to plug your community alarm into the hub, the ATA will convert analogue signals to digital. This means you can use your equipment in the same way as before. You will however no longer hear a loud dialling tone when you press your pendant, this is because the call will be placed digitally.

It is important to note that calls will go through the home hub which uses mains power, this means the home hub and therefore your community alarm will not function in the event of a power cut. Some telecom and internet providers have assured they will provide all vulnerable customers with a battery back-up.

What you need to do

To find out more about when the digital switchover will take place in your local area, please contact your telecom provider.

If you have already been contacted by your telecom or internet provider regarding an impending switch over to digital, it is recommended that you:

  • tell your telecom provider you are a vulnerable client with a community alarm or telecare equipment in your property
  • ask to register with the Priority Service Register (PSR). This is a free and voluntary system that your telecom provider may use to ensure the correct support is given to vulnerable customers. This may provide you with advanced notice of planned power cuts. You may be eligible to register if:
    • you're of pensionable age
    • you have a disability or are chronically sick
    • you have a long-term medical condition
    • you have additional communication needs, typically due to a hearing or visual impairment
    • you're in a vulnerable situation
  • request a battery back-up in case of power cuts

Ofcom will ensure that telephone providers offer back-up measures for you if you don't have access to a mobile phone, live in areas with unreliable mobile signal, and are more reliant on your landline for reasons such as disability or ill health. These back-up measures may include battery-powered back-up phone lines with around 24 hours of standby power and around 1 hour of talk time. This would ensure you can still use your home telephone to call for help in an emergency. When mains power is restored, the back-up battery would recharge automatically.

  • request an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA)

If you have any additional questions, we advise contacting your telephone provider directly for more information.

If you have any further queries relating to your community alarm or telecare please email