Personal alarms, security systems (telecare) and keysafes

Personal alarms and security systems (telecare) are devices that call for help if you, or someone you know, falls or has a problem at home.

They range from basic alarms to intercom systems that allow family members to see who's knocking at your door.

For example, they can be triggered if:

  • you fall over or out of bed
  • you have a fit
  • you wander off or get lost
  • the room is too hot or too cold

Basic alarms

These are small devices you set off to get help. They don't go off by themselves like the more expensive systems.

They can usually:

  • make a loud noise
  • send a signal to a carer or family member's pager or phone

They can be:

  • carried or worn around your wrist or your neck as a pendant
  • a button or pull cord in your home you use if you need help

These alarms are cheap, but you have to rely on someone being close by to help.

Buying an alarm

You can buy them online or on the high street. Prices start at around £3.

Key safes

A keysafe is a small box you lock that holds a key. This means carers, your family or emergency services can get into your home if you can't get to the door.

A key safe is fixed to an outdoor wall. You use a code – that you can choose – to open it.

Buying a key safe

You can buy a keysafe online or on the high street. Prices range from £20 to more than £100. The more expensive keysafes work the same way but they're stronger and heavier.

Home security

Home security helps you to stay safe at home. There's a wide range of devices that alert your family or carers if there's a problem.

They include:

  • a small device (such as a watch) that uses GPS to tell people your location if you get lost
  • intercom systems that show family who's at your door and allows them to open doors
  • gadgets that alert a call centre if there's a problem
  • systems that turn off electricity or gas mains if they detect danger
  • gadgets that remind you to take medicine

You can change a system to include what you need. There are sensors to show:

  • if it's too hot or too cold
  • an oven that's been left on
  • when doors open
  • if you stop moving
  • if you fall out of bed

Buying home security systems and tracking devices

You can get basic home security systems online or on the high street. Prices start at around £40.

For systems connected to a monitoring service (telecare), contact the Telecare Services Association. You can search for providers and get advice on different products and services available.

Costs vary depending on your package. There's usually an installation cost followed by monthly charges ranging from £80 to £200 a month for 24hr monitoring.

You can buy GPS location tracking systems online or on the high street. They range from £60 to more than £300.

Which? has information on a range of GPS watches.

Get help with costs of home security

Some councils provide monitoring services. They're usually basic systems. Contact adult social services at your council and ask if they provide them. If they do, they'll arrange a home assessment.

Choosing an alarm or home security

Think about:

  • are you happy using the devices, for example is it realistic to wear one?
  • do you need to change batteries and are you able to do this?
  • do you need someone with DIY skills to fit it?
  • do you have pets that may trigger sensors?

The Which? website has further advice on:

Page last reviewed: 08/08/2018
Next review due: 08/08/2021