Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of loved ones becomes a top priority as they continue to age, experience health scares, or become less independent. Personal alarms are assistive technology devices that help protect people in an emergency, while giving a sense of security and confidence.
In this article, we share all the info you need to make an informed decision about personal alarms for the elderly. We explore their functionality, features, and the benefits they bring to both seniors and their caregivers.
Sections (click on section to skip):
- What is a personal alarm?
- Who can benefit from a Personal Alarm?
- What are the different types of personal alarms?
- How does a Monitored Personal Alarm work?
- What’s the difference between a home, mobile and watch alarms?
- Which is the best personal alarm for me?
- Do you need the NBN to have a personal alarm?
- Can I get funding for a personal alarm?
- Why should I get a MePACS personal alarm system?
- How much does a MePACS Personal Alarm cost?
- How to install a MePACS personal alarm?
- What accessories do MePACS offer for users with limited mobility?
A personal alarm is a small, wearable device that can be used in an emergency to call for help quickly. It features a button that can be pressed to activate the alarm, and often has other features such as falls detection and GPS location. The alarm is often worn around the neck or on the wrist, including in the shower or bath, where there’s an increased risk of accidents.
Personal alarms are designed to provide safety and support for seniors living independently, people with chronic conditions, people living with a disability, or people recovering from surgery. While personal alarms are particularly beneficial for elderly people who are prone to falls or have underlying health conditions, they also provide peace of mind and confidence for older people who enjoy a more active lifestyle.
In Australia, Falls are the main cause of unintentional injury and hospitalisation for people over the age of 65, and 50% of people who experience a fall cannot get back up on their own. A bad fall can often lead to a cascade of problems, including functional decline, frailty, decreased quality of life as well as anxiety, loss of confidence and independence.
Older people often fear losing their independence, not being able to remain in their own home, and moving into a nursing home.
A personal alarm provides support and peace of mind for people living independently and their families, knowing that help is only a button press away.
There are 2 main types of personal alarms:
- Monitored Personal Alarm
- Auto-dial Personal Alarm (also called self-monitored).
A monitored alarm is connected to a professional emergency response centre which operates 24/7.
An Auto-dial alarm will go through a list of pre-programed contacts until one of them answers.
An auto-dial alarm is designed to automatically dial and connect to pre-programmed phone numbers or emergency contacts when triggered. Depending on the brand, you can pre-program between 4 to 10 contact numbers. Some brands can be configured to leave a message for the contact, or emergency services like 000.
Once an Auto-dial alarm is activated, it automatically dials the pre-set phone numbers until someone answers the call. If none of the contacts answer the call from the alarm it may leave a message or continue to try until it reaches a predetermined limit.
There are many reasons why contacts cannot answer the call:
- Busy at work
- School pick up
- Away on holidays
- It’s night time
- In a poor phone reception area
- Phone is in silent mode
With an Auto-dial alarm, you should consider if your contacts will be able to respond when you need them, and can reach you as quickly as possible – ideally in less than 30 minutes. Also be aware that if the alarm calls 000 and you can’t respond to the operator, you may not receive the help you need.
A Monitored Personal Alarm is connected to a 24/7 emergency response centre, which is staffed by trained operators who have the experience and knowledge to assess emergencies and take immediate actions. At MePACS we respond to calls within 2 minutes and get the help you need fast.
Just like an Auto-dial alarm, you can also nominate close people who can be contacted in an emergency. The difference is that our trained monitors always answer the call and assess the emergency to determine the best course of action – whether it’s calling your family or getting emergency services.
We also keep your health information and relevant medical history (such as previous falls) on file. In an emergency we can provide those to the ambulance service so that they can tailor their response and prioritise the call.
The main advantages of a monitored alarm service are:
- Fast response within 2 minutes, day or night
- We never close – open 365 days a year, 24/7
- Trained professionals with triage experience – we get the right help
- Health information and medical history is kept on file
- We keep in touch and provide reassurance until help arrives
- We provide updates to your close contacts
- We test your alarm every month
If a client feels unwell, falls, or experiences another medical emergency, they can call for help by pressing the button on the alarm. Alternatively, the alarm may detect a fall and contact the emergency response centre automatically.
Once the alarm is activated, an alert is sent to the emergency response centre. An operator will promptly answer the call and speak to the client through the alarm. The operator will address the client by name and ask “Are you okay?”, encouraging the client to provide more details, so that they can assess the situation and get the appropriate help.
If the client does not respond after pressing the alarm is activated, the operator will attempt to call the client on their home or mobile phone. If the client is still not responding, the operator will contact emergency services and provide an update to the client’s close contact.
This procedure is part of the MePACS duty of care that makes sure every client gets help in an emergency, even if they cannot communicate.
The Home Alarm is a system used inside the home and consists of a small alarm that you can wear around your neck or on your wrist, and a base unit that is positioned in a central place. The pendant is completely waterproof (so you can wear it in the shower) and has a simple one-button activation. The system has 2-way voice communication, and a range of about 40-50 meters from the base unit. It has backup power in case of a power failure, and the battery in the pendant will last 2-3 years.
Read more →
The Mobile alarm is a small, wearable device that can be used anywhere in Australia where’s there’s reliable 4G mobile network coverage. Features include 4G technology, falls detection, GPS tracker, 2-way voice communication, low battery and mobile reception alerts, and only weighs 28 grams. You can wear it around your neck on a clip that can be connected to you clothing or belt. It is rain proof, but not shower proof, and the battery lasts around 2 days.
Read more →
The Solo Watch alarm is essentially a stylish smartwatch that has been reconfigured to connect to the MePACS response centre. It is built on the Samsung Galaxi watch and has features including 4G technology, Falls Detection, GPS tracker, 2-Way communication, Heart rate monitor and Pedometer. It is also completely waterproof and can be worn in the shower. The battery lasts about 1 day so we recommend charging the watch overnight.
Read more →
Personal alarm requirements are different for each person, and depend on several factors such as mobility, dexterity, level of comfort with technology, and of course your budget. Consulting with your GP, healthcare professionals or specialists in assistive technology can also help provide valuable guidance.
Here are a few things you should consider:
- Risk factors: Health conditions, medical history, prone to falls etc.
- Mobility, level of activity, dexterity and vision
- If considering a watch alarm, are you comfortable with using a touchscreen?
- Range and coverage: Do you need it just for home, or outdoors as well
- Battery life: Longer battery life may be important
- Cost: What is your budget, are you eligible for funding?
- Monitored or Auto-dial: Do have close contact you can rely on around the clock, or would you prefer a trusted 24/7 emergency service?
As a general recommendation, we often suggest the MePACS Home and Mobile bundle for people who lead a mostly independent and active lifestyle – doing their own grocery shopping, meeting friends, going to medical appointments and engaging in the community. It consists of a wearable home alarm device, and a separate wearable mobile device that works anywhere in Australia that has 4G mobile network coverage.
The MePACS Solo Watch is a monitored personal alarm that is best suited for active people who are comfortable using a smartwatch. The Solo watch can be used at home and anywhere in Australia that has 4G mobile network coverage.
It has a range of features including 4G technology, Falls Detection, GPS tracker, Heart rate monitor and Pedometer.
For people who are mainly at home we recommend the MePACS monitored home alarm system. It consists of a small, wearable fully waterproof device, and a base unit which is used for communicating with our emergency response centre.
At MePACS, our personal alarms do not require the NBN, a telephone line or a mobile phone. Our alarms have an independent SIM card for either Telstra or Optus (included in the cost of the alarm).
When you sign up for a MePACS alarm, our tech team determines which network offers the best coverage for your location.
There are few government and state programs that help provide funding for personal alarms to eligible people. based an various criteria and assessment. These include:
Home Care Package (HCP):
A program designed for people with more complex care needs and need a coordinated approach to getting help at home. Check your eligibility here
Eligible people may be entitled to funding for a personal alarm under the assistive technology option.
Find out more here
Personal Alert Victoria (PAV):
A program by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that provides funding for a MePACS Home Alarm System. Check your eligibility here
Personal Alert South Australia (SA):
A program by the South Australian government that provides funding for a MePACS Home Alarm System.
Check your eligibility here
MePACS is a reliable and trusted Australian provider or personal alarms, with over 50,000 clients nation wide. As part of the public healthcare network, we put people over profits and have a strong duty of care for our clients.
There are many compelling reasons why you should consider MePACS:
- Personalised and Compassionate Approach: we understand that each person is unique, and genuinely care about your wellbeing. We take the time to listen and tailor our approach for each client. Our compassion and care help to create trust and give reassurance for clients and their families.
- Client-Centered Focus: We place the client at the center of everything we do and go above and beyond to ensure the best possible outcomes for the client, making their safety, security, and overall quality of life their top priority.
- Established Reputation: MePACS has over 30 years of experience in the Australian healthcare industry and have garnered a strong track record in delivering high-quality services to clients nation wide.
- 24/7 Fast Emergency Response: MePACS offers fast emergency response services around-the-clock. Our Australian-based response centre is open day and night, 365 days a year. We receive around 1,500 calls a day, with an average response time of less than 2 minutes. 94% of calls are answered within 1 minute.
- Trained Monitored: Our emergency response centre is staffed by trained operators who are experienced with handling emergency calls, assessing situations, and taking fast, appropriate actions to coordinate an efficient emergency response.
- User-Friendly Devices: Our user-friendly personal alarms are designed with simplicity and ease of use in mind. They prioritise intuitive interfaces and accessible buttons to ensure that clients can use the alarms effectively, even in stressful situations.
- Range of Personal Alarm Options: Our range of personal alarm options to cater to different needs and preferences. Whether it’s a pendant, wristband, or mobile device, or a watch alarm, you can choose the device that best suits your lifestyle, requirements and budget.
- Value-Added Services: We offers additional services such as a daily check-in, tech install and alarm testing, that help contribute to the overall wellbeing and safety of our clients.
- Transparent Pricing: MePACS maintains transparent pricing structures, clearly outlining our fees and charges on our website. We don’t have lock-in contract and there are no hidden costs.
Read MePACS Personal Alarm reviews:
MePACS Home Alarm
Pendant and base unit: No charge for monthly rental
Monthly monitoring: $39 / per month inc. GST
Self installation: $29 for 1 alarm, $39 for 2 alarms
Tech installation: $140 inc. GST
Home & Mobile Alarm Bundle:
Mobile alarm and charger: $385 inc. GST (one-off cost)
Monthly monitoring: $51 / per month inc. GST
Self installation: $29 for 1 alarm, $39 for 2 alarms
Tech installation: $140 inc. GST
Solo Watch Alarm:
Watch: $795 inc. GST (one-off cost)
Monthly monitoring: $59 / per month inc. GST
What is covered by the Monthly Monitoring fee:
The MePACS monthly monitoring fee mainly covers the 24/7 access to our professional emergency response centre, where trained operators are ready to help around the clock. We also keep your important health information on file so that we can tailor our response to your specific requirements and get you the help you need quickly and efficiently.
The fee also covers monthly testing of the alarm, the SIM card that comes pre-installed in the alarm, and any call charges from the alarm.
Self-installation is the easiest and most cost-effective method to install a MePACS alarm. Self-installation takes about 15-20 minutes and is done over the phone with our help desk who guide you through the quick process.
Professional installation by our tech team is available for an additional cost. Currently we offer this service in Victoria, South Australia, Sydney & Brisbane. For additional locations please contact us on 1800 685 329.
MePACS offers a range of accessories to support people with limited dexterity or mobility.
Some of the options include:
The pendant is used for people with vision impairment and vibrates when alarm has been activated. It has a range of up to 300 meters and comes with wristwatch strap & neck chain. It is completely waterproof and can be worn in the shower or bath.
This pendant has a built-in falls detector and is recommended for people who are prone to falls. It is lightweight and fully waterproof and can be worn in the bath or shower. It has light and sound to confirm when the alarm has been activated.
Please note that the MePACS mobile alarm and the Solo watch also have a built-in falls detector.
This useful and inexpensive accessory makes the button surface on the pendant bigger, so it’s much easier for people with limited dexterity to activate the alarm when they need help.
To view the full list of MePACS accessories click here.
In conclusion, personal alarms are an invaluable tool for enhancing the safety, security, and independence of people who live alone. With advanced features such as fall detection, GPS location, two-way communication, and 24/7 monitoring, personal alarms offer a lifeline in an emergency. They provide a sense of reassurance to both the users and their caregivers, knowing that help is just a button press away.
By investing in a MePACS personal alarm, you can empower yourself and your loved ones to navigate daily life with confidence, knowing that support and assistance are always available when you need it most.