Inventor enabled Eveline to fulfil her wish of being able to live safely in her own home

The concerns of a Cumbrian inventor for his elderly grandmother spurred him into creating a system that is now helping tens of thousands of people across the UK to live independently for longer.

James Batchelor, from Windermere, developed the Clever Contact service and the OKEachDay phone to enable his beloved Eveline to fulfil her wish of being able to live safely in her own home for as long as possible.

But it became clear to the 41-year-old entrepreneur that his invention could be used to help many other people with similar wishes. Now, the technology, from Alertacall - the firm James set up in 2004 - is being used in homes the length and breadth of the UK.

His award-winning technology is credited with helping to maintain the independence and wellbeing of tens of thousands of people. James described his grandmother as a “fiercely independent” woman who was keen to maintain her ability to live on her own at home.

“Eveline always fiercely independent. But she had an accident and broke her arm in several places, resulting in a short stay in a residential home while she recovered.

“She couldn’t wait to get back home. As a family, this gave us a dilemma - how could we make sure she was OK without intruding upon her independence or privacy?

“Eveline thought she was too young to wear a pendant alarm and we knew this option was not going to work at all if she didn’t want to wear one.

“So we began with calls her every morning and night.

“She soon found these too , so I designed the OKEachDay phone so she could tell us she was fine at the press of a button.

‘If she didn’t press her OKEachDay button by a certain time, we would then ring to check she was OK.

“It gave Eveline control over her own life as well as the reassurance that help was on the way if something went wrong.”

James, who is based in Windermere with wife Jo, began his career setting up one of the first internet companies in the Yorkshire Dales back in the 1990s and has since then founded several other ventures.

He added: “What was clear to me was that there must be many other independent people out there just like my grandmother and this system could help them.

“I could also see the difference this had made within my own family, so I knew other families could also benefit.”

James named the service Clever Contact, and every person signing up receives an easy to use phone complete with OKEachDay button.

They simply press the button to signal they are fine before an agreed time - for most just once in the morning, though some press more than once a day, for example just before going to bed.

This allows them to carry on with whatever activities they had planned for the day without interference.

In the event of the button not being pressed they will receive a call from the friendly team. It may be because customers would prefer to have a chat with a member of the team or, crucially, if they are unwell or unable to press the OKEachDay button.

Customers can request reminders too, so use to jog their memory about upcoming family birthdays, appointments and other diary dates.

James described developing the system, which now helps some of the country’s most independent older people, as one of his greatest achievements.

“More and more people are now stepping forward to subscribe to Clever Contact

“The figure has now reached the tens of thousands and we are very proud of the difference it is making to the lives of so many.”

Friendly help is available on call

Interaction: Service users have the option of having a chat with a team member

NEW technology can help make life easier in many ways, but it should never eliminate human contact, a Cumbrian inventor has claimed.

Technology expert James Batchelor designed a worldleading communications system to help his grandmother Eveline retain her independence while still protecting her privacy.

His non-intrusive system gives people the ability to quickly get on with their day by pressing the OKEachDay button which only takes two seconds, or the option of a call from a member of his friendly team.

But being able to speak directly with people regularly is an essential element of wellbeing, he stated.

“Increasingly we see technology introduced that improves our lives in some way but that inadvertently removes access to contact with another person,” James said.

“For example, email and messaging are often used instead of a phone call these days. There are upsides to this, but downsides too.

“It’s really important that we don’t lose the chance to speak directly with another person when we design technology - and that principle is at the heart of all our services.”

James has personally made an estimated 5,000 calls to older people as well as more than 1,000 home visits as he researched what they most wanted from his company’s Clever Contact service.

The system he designed enables people to have a chat with a member of the Alertacall team every day if they wish. Alternatively, customers can simply press an OKEachDay button and get on with their day.

It aligns with research into the importance of social interaction upon health, wellness and longevity.

An estimated 10 million Britons are alive today who are expected to live beyond the age of 100.

This means that living well at home and retaining the ability to communicate with people is set to become increasingly important.

“Many of our clients use the OKEachDay button to signal that they are fine but others enjoy the interaction of a phone call,” James added.

“While a lot of new technology irons out the need to speak or engage with another person, being able to have a conversation or a chat is something we deliberately designed into our system.

“Advances in technology are great, but we need to remember the benefits of communicating on a one to one basis.”

Your chance to try the service free of charge

On the button: Alertacall’s Clever Contact phone

The world-leading service is credited with helping to maintain the independence of tens of thousands of people across the UK.

Now Cumbrian firm Alertacall is offering 50 people the chance to try their Clever Contact service with the OKEachDay button for six months, free of charge.

Each person will be provided with a new OKEachDay phone that they simply plug in at home.

They will then be able to enjoy all of the benefits of the service - pressing the OKEachDay button to confirm they are fine or chatting to a member of the friendly team.

The Clever Contact service also includes a useful reminder feature for appointments and birthdays, so anyone who has one of the phones can take full advantage of this.

To apply for one of the 50 OKEachDay phones - with no hidden costs - call the Clever Contact team on 0808 208 1234.

The six-month service will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Callers may call on behalf of themselves or someone else.