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SOPHIA (Soziale Personenbetreuung Hilfen in Alltag – Daily Social Care) Telecare

Summary

Description

Operational Information

Evaluation

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Summary

SOPHIA is a non-profit association that combines social support with a security wristband to send help in emergencies. It also provides the possibility of using a videophone to contact the SOPHIA team or family anytime.

The initiative is funded by the German federal government, the regional government of Bavaria and by charities. The Sophia pilot phase started in 2004. When it ended in 12/2004 the business immediately started in 1/2005. No budget was needed to implement the initiative. The core idea of the SOPHIA business model was to create a business with housing companies. Those companies had to pay a monthly fee in order to offer SOPHIA services to their tenants. With this monthly fee it was possible to finance the SOPHIA service-centre from the beginning.

The SOPHIA project combines modern emergency call technology with video communication, and automatic documentation of individual activity at home. (Movement signals generate a 24-hour database of activity.) On the basis of all these data, continuous, individualized help is organized. Automatically generated alarms and messages, such as when wearing or not wearing the security wristband, a message due to low activity, an inactivity alarm, a hypothermia alarm, increase the service’s ability to recognise crisis situations.

The emergency alarm services, targeted to dependent older people, are carried out by a team of professional and volunteer carers.

The service reached about 3000 people in 2009 and involves different organizations belonging to public authorities and the Health/Social system.

Users are required to pay rental and installation fees. Part of the costs for this service are covered via the German care insurance, and the care recipient can choose among different care packages.

The service positively impacts on the quality of life of older people and their carers, also in addition to the labour market and the National Health System (NHS).

Description
refers to the target users, kind of service provided, ICTs typologies and devices used

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SOPHIA (Soziale Personenbetreuung Hilfen in Alltag – Daily Social Care) Telecare
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Germany
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2002
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This project aims at identifying and fulfilling the emergency needs of older people in order to rapidly activate support and help from formal and informal carers. It addresses especially people with limited mobility in order to enable them to live more independently.

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It was set-up in 2002 as a pilot project by the “Joseph Foundation”, and funded by the German federal government and the regional government of Bavaria in Bamberg (development costs: approx. 1, 5 Million Euros). In 2004 the SOPHIA organisation was founded together with a Northern Bavarian housing company. In 2005, SOPHIA Holding was founded. In 2006-2008, the initiative was expanded through central service points in Bavaria, Berlin, and Hessen.

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Yes Care Recipients
Yes Informal carers
Yes Paid assistants
Yes Formal carers

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Not available

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Yes Independent Living
No Information and learning for carers
Yes Personal Support and Social Integration for carer
Yes Care coordination

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Social support and innovative and user friendly communication technologies which allow older people to live independently and to have direct contact with formal and informal carers. They also offer advice to carers about caring and home equipment. In case of need, the service delivers meals on wheels or help with housekeeping.

How it works:

Whenever the care recipient feels ill, he/she can press the security wristband to activate a direct contact with the volunteer network SOPHIA. The latter then contacts a General Practitioner if necessary and the informal carer. (Medications can also be delivered to the older person.) After contacting SOPHIA, the network calls the patient again via a PC or a TV. Therefore carers do not have to worry about calling a doctor for the older person.

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Security wristband, videophone, PC and TV

Operational Information
refers to the type of funding, budget, sustainability and organisations involved

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Both public and private
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Public service funding: Government, Regional, Local Authorities, non-profit public entities
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The German Federal Government and the regional government of Bavaria in Bamberg.

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Private out of pocket: users pay the service by themselves
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Not available

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For older people who need care, the German care insurance fund provides a monthly subsidy of 18.36€ and a one-time installation subsidy of 10.49€. (SOPHIA deals with the formal procedures to obtain these subsidies.) In addition, SOPHIA supports people who have financial needs. Users can choose among different options, ranging from around 20€ to approximately 35€ per month depending on the level of service provided. The costs not covered by the care insurance fund have to be covered by the older person, or his/her family (There is still a legal obligation in Germany for relatives to take on payments to cover the care costs).

Carers can chose from different service packages:

  • SOPHIA Basic for 20,90€ per month (without the installation cost of 100€), including the 24h SOPHIA service via telephone, regular phone calls from the SOPHIA team, support with search for general services and home services.
  • SOPHIA Safety for 32,80€ per month (installation cost of 100€): all services of the Basic package, plus Vivago alarm in the home (social alarm) via intelligent security wristband and follow-up care service (e.g. phone call).
  • SOPHIA Home Security (price varies; additional cost): installation of smoke/fire, water and burglar alarms.
  • SOPHIA GPS Emergency mobile phone for 34,90€ per month (49,80€ installation cost), plus costs for phone calls: all services of the basic package, plus mobile phone for emergency calls to the SOPHIA service, family and friends by pushing a button. GPS technology allows exact location of the user. Minimum contract duration is 6 months.
  • SOPHIA GSM Emergency alarm (prices depend on contract length, no extra calling fees): fixed alarm in the house (only a plug is necessary), for short-time periods or quick use e.g. when the family is on holiday or after returning from the hospital.
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The initiative sustains itself through public contributions (German Care Insurance, Federal Government, Regional Government of Bavaria and charities) and users' fees. Even if the service is economically accessible, if Public Authorities cut the funding, some citizens may be forced to give up the service, with negative consequences for the initiative.

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€ More than 500,000
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1,5 Million €

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Yes Authorities
No Private Care Sector
Yes Health and Social Care Systems
No Third Sector
No Private Companies

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Not available

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Not involved
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Yes Informal Carers
Yes Health Professionals
Yes Social Care Professionals
Yes Privately-Hired Care Assistants (inc. Migrant Care Workers)
Yes Volunteers

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Not available

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Volunteer carers work together with professional carers to support the aged.

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1,001 - 5,000
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Not available

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A promotional SOPHIA Brochure and a Video are available.

Evaluation
refers to the impact of the service on end-users, care organisations and authorities

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This service benefits the quality of life of:

- Informal carers, because it helps them to reconcile care and work, e.g. they can be sure that their relatives are monitored and can ask for help in case of need.

- Older people, because it allows them to live independently in their own homes (Mollenkopf et al., 2010).

 

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This service benefits:

- Private organisations that provide care, because it helps to save costs and optimize resources as private care organisations are rapidly informed about emergencies. Moreover, SOPHIA provides them with useful medical data through an automatic documentation of individual activity at home. (Movement signals generate a 24-hour database.) Automatically generated alarms and messages (a message due to low activity, an inactivity alarm, a hypothermia alarm) allows the rapid recognition of crisis situations.

- Companies and the labour market, because it helps the informal carer to reconcile paid work and caring tasks. It also avoids added costs for replacing the worker who is absent from work. As a result the informal carer is relieved and supported, easing the care burden (Mollenkopf et al., 2010).

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This service benefits public authorities, the NHS and social services. It helps to save the costs of home caring and hospitalisation because it avoids unnecessary hospital admissions and prevents domestic accidents. As SOPHIA provides both healthcare and social support, it helps to optimise financial and human resources by contacting General Practitioners and pharmacies making informal carers and care recipients feel relieved and assured (Mollenkopf et al., 2010).

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Strengths:

  1. Older people and family are supported and protected, as SOPHIA allows older people to live independently, even if the person has to cope with restrictions due to age or health problems. The biggest benefit is the possibility to live in one's own home.

Weaknesses:

  1. All websites referring to the service are only in German. No English version is available.

Opportunities:

  1. The service could be progressively appreciated by old and disabled people, as they have to continuously deal with technology every day. This characteristic could help spread this service in the near future.

Threats/challenges:

  1. According to the experts the video communication often seems too complicated for older people. Therefore this can be a future field to be developed.
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There is no information available on future funding, yet given the success and extension of the service in recent years, it is highly likely that SOPHIA will be extending their services to dependent older people in the future.

The initiative has been able to develop on a larger scale and transferred to four different German Regions. There is no mention of any further developments planned in the future to increase the initiative’s scalability and transferability. SOPHIA German Partners are distributed across the entire country.

More Information
includes contacts, publications and accompanying documents

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References:

Mollenkopf H., Kloé U., Olbermann E., Klumpp G. (2010) The potential of ICT in supporting domiciliary care in Germany, edited by Redecker C., Sevilla: IPTS

Publications:

Empirica, WRC and fontec (2010) ICT & Ageing - European Study on Users, Market and Technology, Final Report, Bonn/Dublin/Vienna: Empirica/WRC/fontec.

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Address: Maria-Ward-Str.8 96047 Bamberg

E-mail: info@sophia-franken.de

Phone: 0049 09 51 2 08 80