Frail pensioners could be fitted with electronic tags to save money on night cover

Frail and vulnerable pensioners in sheltered housing could be fitted with electronic tags to save cash on night cover.

The devices, which are usually used to check up on criminals on early release, would be monitored by a warden.

The idea is that the tags would alert staff to 'an unexpected change' in a resident's routine.

Labour-run Lancashire County Council is expected to give the go-ahead to the pilot scheme next month as part of a plan to cut costs by £30,000.

But campaigners for the elderly have denounced it as demeaning and dangerous.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'Technology must only be used with a person's full consent and as part of a comprehensive care package.

'It must never be a substitute for good quality care or a way to reduce care costs.'
Geoff Driver, the Conservative group leader at the council, said: 'This is an absolute disgrace.

'It will be an appalling intrusion on the privacy and self-respect of these elderly people.

'It also poses a risk to their safety. There is no substitute for a real person to come and help.

'If it happened to a relative of mine, I would be round to the home with a pair of shears and cut it off.'

The planned scheme is one of a raft of cost-cutting measures proposed by the county council's cabinet which are due to go the vote on February 12.

Mr Driver said: 'We will vigorously oppose it but it's a Labour proposal in a Labour-run council so the likelihood is that it will go ahead.

'If it does, I shudder to think how far it might be extended.'

The council budget report states that electronic monitoring and data-gathering devices would be used to recognise and 'warn professionals of an unexpected change of an older person's routine' during night cover.

If the scheme goes ahead it would be introduced at 'extra care sheltered housing' where frail and vulnerable pensioners have their own apartments under the care of full time wardens and other staff.The deepening crisis over the care of frail and sick older people has been highlighted by the Daily Mail's Dignity for the Elderly campaign.

This week it emerged that tens of thousands of elderly people in care homes are to be given a spending money increase of just 75p a week.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced that they would have no more than £21.90 a week to pay for everything from clothes to toothpaste, books and phone calls - less than prisoners.

Around 50,000 offenders a year are spared jail and instead fitted with electronic tags to enforce night-time curfews, usually for 12 hours.

A further 15,000 are let out early if they agree to wear a tag.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council was not available for comment.

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