New Forest District Council has launched Appletree Careline, a 24 hour community alarm service for elderly or vulnerable residents run from the council’s offices at Appletree Court, Lyndhurst.

The council’s community alarm service was previously operated by an outside contractor but alarm monitoring has now been brought into the council’s CCTV and Community Alarms control centre. Emergency calls from service users were formerly answered by staff based in Doncaster.

Councillor Jill Cleary, NFDC portfolio holder for housing and communities said: “This is good news for vulnerable members of our community because their calls for assistance will now be answered by highly trained staff based here in the New Forest who have good local knowledge. The team answering the emergency calls will be the same team who install and maintain the alarm system in people’s homes, which will allow us to build relationships with our users, providing reassurance and quality service.”

Appletree Careline provides a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year service designed to enable elderly or vulnerable residents to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible. Service users have a special alarm unit with a button to press for assistance; alternatively the alarm can be activated by a remote pendant worn around the neck or wrist. Staff in the council’s control centre have undergone specialist training to equip them to respond to users’ emergency calls.

The move to combine the community alarm system with the council’s existing CCTV service will provide efficiencies as well as service improvement and a platform for further business opportunities. The CCTV control room was staffed 20 hours per day, monitoring the 70 public space surveillance cameras around the district. Combining the two services and keeping the control centre open round the clock will also be good news for combating crime and disorder in the district. In addition it is hoped to develop Appletree Careline and increase the number of users.

Appletree Careline currently has 2,300 individual service users across the district and as far away as Southampton, Romsey and Eastleigh. The service is also available via pull cords in the council’s Older Persons Accommodation, serving a further 576 residents.

The control room’s new 24 hour opening has already proved useful during the recent flooding in the district, enabling the council to take emergency calls around the clock and assist in co-ordinating the multi-agency response.

For more information on Appletree Careline please telephone 023 8028 5523.