In a controlled study of older people living in sheltered housing (retirement housing), 24 people provided with telecare were compared with a control group of 28 people. The intervention consisted of second generation telecare equipment, such as automatic flood or falls detectors, a third generation lifestyle reassurance system and an Internet café. After a 12-month monitoring period, there was no noticeable change in the fear of falling. There was no significant difference for eight of the nine SF-36 domains. However, the Social Functioning domain showed a significant difference (P = 0.049), with scores 8% higher in the intervention group, suggesting a beneficial effect of telecare. Positive trends were also evident in areas such as an increase in the length of time spent out of the home, improved feelings of safety during the day and night, and a reduction in the fear of crime. The Internet café was used by 25% of people for at least 20 min per week. The results suggest that second generation telecare systems and Internet facilities could be more widely used in service delivery, but that lifestyle reassurance requires further development.
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