East Lothian Council

East Lothian Council

Our Journey to Digital Telecare – East Lothian Council

Key drivers for transitioning to digital telecare:

  • BT decision to discontinue use of Analogue telephone lines – 2025;
  • Previous system coming to end of manufacturer support period;
  • Ensuring a safe and future proof system.

High level steps to enable key drivers:

  • Secured internal funding for main ARC upgrade and applied for funding from Scottish Government to participate in trials;
  • Secured support from Council Senior Management Team.


  • Internal - Telecare Installation Management Team, Alarm Receiving Centre Management Team, IT, Procurement, Information Governance, Transition Team;
  • External – Digital Telecare for Scottish Local Government and TEC Leads, Technical Advisory Group, ARC supplier (Jontek), alarm suppliers – Doro, Tynetec & Possum.

Key challenges and overcoming them:

  • Covering all aspects of requirements in the tender specifications to ensure the right and fit for purpose system was chosen;
  • Getting commitment and buy in to drive forward the transitioning to digital telecare (not a priority for other service areas in the partnership). Report and presentation to Senior Management Team secured Chief Executive support;
  • Stepping into unknown areas and understanding the technical and legal requirements (SIPs, DPIA’s etc.) Regular conversations with all internal and external partners has been important and the Digital Telecare Playbook is now a useful source of information and clarification;
  • Lack of expertise in this area as it is a new way of delivering the telecare service hence need for trials to commence to resolve issues;
  • DPIA needing to take account of work for other authorities – ongoing;
  • Traditional telecare suppliers still developing digital products therefore delaying some procurement until ready;
  • There are concerns regarding connectivity in some areas which currently need to rely on analogue landlines. It is hoped that this improves before final switch off or alternatives prove successful;
  • Pace of change is a challenge we have not managed to overcome due to other pressures however some issues would have been dealt with remotely if the digital system had been implemented pre-Covid.

Next steps in digital telecare journey:

  • To secure further funding to complete IT work for digital ARC platform;
  • Penetration testing;
  • Work with Digital Office to produce client information leaflet;
  • Complete DPIA;
  • Up-skill workforce with use of DMP’s and installation of alarms using analogue protocols meantime;
  • Charging workshop with key stakeholders which includes consideration regarding how sim costs will be met in longer term;
  • Go live!
  • To begin soft trials for staff and then to low risk service users;
  • Following successful evaluation determine date when all new alarm installs are digital to allow a gradual phasing in over next few years.

Published date: August 2020