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Assistive technology

How to get alarms and gadgets that can support you in your everyday life.

How assistive technology can help you

Assistive technology includes smart home technology, mobile phones and more specialised equipment.

Assistive technology can:

  • promote independence and autonomy, both for the person and those around them
  • facilitate memory and recall
  • help manage potential risks in and around the home
  • reduce early entry into care homes and hospitals
  • reduce the stress on carers, improving their quality of life and of the person they are caring for.

Find the best assistive technology for you

It is important to consider what type of technology may best help you as the solution can differ for each individual. 

You should think about:

  • what you need help with
  • how the technology may fit in with your life and your routine
  • how it will work with other items you are using. 

It is also important to understand who will respond if an alarm is raised. 

Types of assistive technology

In Oxfordshire, we use a range of technology.


Telecare sensors in your home are linked through your phone line and a base unit connected to a 24/7 staffed monitoring centre. If the sensor or alarm is triggered, it will call the monitoring centre.

You can buy Telecare services from our provider through us. Or you can buy the services from a provider you choose.

Standalone assistive technology

Standalone equipment is not connected to a monitoring centre but can help you maintain your safety at home. These simple gadgets can either remind or enable you to do something or alert a family member or carer living with you that you need help.

Most equipment is provided on loan, free of charge, if you are assessed as needing it.

You can also buy equipment standalone equipment yourself.

Activity monitoring

Activity monitoring systems consist of movement sensors (not cameras), which can help determine how a person manages their daily routine at home. It can show things such as when the person:

  • gets up
  • leaves the house
  • goes into the kitchen.

This can be useful in finding out what support someone might need at home.

In Oxfordshire, we have two systems, Just Checking and Canary Care. Both are used for short assessment periods by our Adult Social Care Teams.

You can buy or lease privately from the companies directly.

Visual and hearing impairments

Some aids can help people with visual and/or hearing impairments. Contact our Sensory Impairment Team for an assessment.

How to get assistive technology

Be assessed for assistive technology

You can be assessed for this equipment through us. Request an assessment indicating that you are interested in assistive technology.

Most equipment is available free to borrow if you have an assessed need, but there may be additional costs for some items.

Depending on the circumstances, some services will require a financial assessment and a contribution towards care costs. Read our guide to paying for your care to determine how we calculate contributions.

Buying assistive technology

You can choose to buy the equipment yourself without an assessment. The providers below sell equipment to the public. 

Where to get advice about assistive technology

How assistive technology works

Watch our video about assisted technology

Video transcript

Tom: Hello, my name is Tom McDermott, I’m an occupational therapist and one of the leads for assistive technology for the county council. Assistive technology is a range of simple devices that people can use in their own home all linked to a monitoring centre to ensure that they are safe and also as independent as possible. This is a range of the equipment we have available that is on loan free of charge following an assessment. We also work very closely with our health colleagues in the community to support people who may have recently come out of hospital or had a fall so that they can get back into their daily routine as soon as possible.

Caroline: Before we had the technology, if there was a problem with Jim we had to rely on family and friends whereas now we have two devices that we can check. The buddy is one that we use which is a small satellite navigation box that he wears in his pocket so that we can actually trace where he is. For instance, if he gets lost, we can just log on to the internet and go on to a site and we can see and find him and turn up and find him wherever he is in the country.

Jan: I’ve been looking after Ralph with dementia for the last four to five years. Being a carer is quite hard, you’ve got to learn a lot. And when you find things are difficult and you don’t know where to turn that is very very difficult. When Ralph walked out that morning, when I found that door open, I didn’t know how long he’d been gone. I’d had a back injury, I wasn’t walking very well and the fact that I had to go out of that door with two sticks and probably walk up and down the street looking for him, it’s quite scary.

Caroline: Another piece of technology that we have is the external door alarm so that is set from 10pm till 6am in the morning. And if he goes out of the door between those times, an alarm comes through to our mobiles so that we know we can get over to him before he goes somewhere and gets lost.

Yan: The device is called an I-help. It sends out messages if I fall over to a relative or whoever I’d like, but if I get up again within about two minutes then it will send another message saying I’ve got back up again.

Tom: So one of the things that might help Ralph with his routine is this little device here. So either Ralph or yourself can record messages on it to remind him about his routine.

Jan: Sounds good

Tom: So getting up in the morning

Jan: That would really help, that would be absolutely perfect. You don’t realise how important a routine is to people with dementia

Tom: Absolutely

Caroline: Another device we have is a fall detector so if he has a fall in the house and doesn’t respond, it goes through to a call centre. And if there’s no response from him we get a phone call to our mobiles and then we go and investigate.

Jan: The best piece of equipment is the one I have on the top of the stairs. And Ralph has to pass by this beam for it go off. It just won’t go off, if he ever moves into the hall, he just has to break that beam for it to go off. And that’s fantastic because I then have a few minutes to know that I can get up and walk down the stairs and see what it happening down stairs.

Yan: The technology improves my way of living. It makes my life much easier and have my own independence.

Caroline: The team that looked after him were actually really helpful in putting all the equipment in. They came in. Put the sensors on the doors and showed us how to work everything so it’s been really easy from that point of view.

Jan: And I find, I feel very different in the evenings now. I can relax properly. I’m not thinking, oh the lights gone on, what’s going on? Where’s he gone now? Has he gone downstairs? Has he left the fridge open? Has he left the freezer open? With this, I know where he is going and it’s brilliant. And I would recommend it to anybody because it gives me peace of mind and is very important to me.

Caroline: The message that we need to get across is that there are things that help people stay safe and independent in their own home. And it’s actually knowing who to ask for help and it’s just about finding out who to speak to and to find out where you can get the help from.         

Examples of how technology may support you at home

Reduce the risk of falls

Sensors and lights may help when getting up from bed to go to the toilet, particularly at night.

Support your memory

  • Remembering to take medication on time or go to a doctor's appointment.
  • Knowing the date and time and distinguishing between day and night.
  • Remembering to eat and drink regularly or at specific times
  • Remembering mobility aid, keys, purse, etc., when going out

If you are concerned about becoming lost or disorientated

Sensors can be placed inside the home to alert a carer or family member, e.g. if a person gets out of bed at night.

Tracking systems using GPS / mobile phone technology can be used to locate somebody outdoors.

Summoning help in an emergency

Waterproof pendant alarms and care phones may help somebody call for help in an emergency.

Determining a person's daily routine

Activity monitoring consists of movement sensors that can help assess how a person manages at home.