In August 2022 the LGA and PCH’s Digital Switchover Working Group conducted a readiness survey to gauge councils’ position on awareness, planning, and implementation of the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN).
In August 2022 the LGA and PCH’s Digital Switchover Working Group conducted a readiness survey to gauge councils’ position on awareness, planning, and implementation of the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN). The purpose of the survey was to inform our support offer to councils, as the switchover has urgent implications for the sector and the millions of people who rely on telecare in the UK. The survey also asked about the impact on services more widely, for example, on alarm systems, traffic controls and lifts. Councils need to move to digital systems by 2025 to ensure that care technology reliability and safety is not compromised.
The online survey was launched at the end of August and responses were accepted up to 26th September. A total of 59 completed surveys were received, two of which were joint responses from shire district councils working in partnership, giving a response rate of 18 per cent.
- Three quarters (76 per cent) of respondent organisations were fully aware of the impact of the digital shift on telecare services and the remaining 24 per cent had some awareness.
- Levels of awareness varied between different groups across organisations with almost all (97 per cent) Telecare Operational Teams having full or some awareness compared to less than half (49 per cent) of elected members.
- Most respondents (90 per cent) were confident about their council’s ability to manage the digital shift with minimal impact on their telecare service and service users.
- A fifth of respondents (22 per cent) have a digital-ready solution in place for telecare and a third (32 per cent) are in the process of putting one in place. A further 15 per cent have a plan which they have not yet implemented, 20 per cent have completed their early stage planning while just three per cent do not currently have a plan in place.
- Twenty seven per cent of respondents are replacing/upgrading all of their analogue alarm units with digital devices as soon as possible and half (49 per cent) only plan to continue using them in the short-term (1-2 years).
- Just over a quarter of respondents (27 per cent) understand the costs and have obtained the funding required to complete the move to digital telecare, 25 per cent understand the costs but have not yet obtained the funding, and a further 27 per cent do not yet understand the funding required.
- Thirty nine per cent of respondents do not yet know how they will fund the move to digital telecare while a third intend to fund it from council budgets. A further eight per cent will use a combination of council funding and increases to service user charges and three per cent will fund the move to digital telecare solely through increased service user charges.
- There were high levels of awareness of the impact the digital switch will have on respondent organisations more widely, 41 per cent were fully aware, 47 per cent had some awareness, eight per cent had heard about it, but did not know the detail while just three per cent were not aware of it.
- Progress in relation to planning and readiness for the impact of the digital shift more widely across respondent councils was varied. Just seven per cent had already put the necessary digital-ready solution(s) in place, 31 per cent were currently putting these in place, 20 per cent had developed a plan which was not yet implemented, 24 per cent had completed their early stage planning and a further seven per cent did not have a plan.
- A quarter of respondents (25 per cent) have digital-ready solutions and the capacity to put them in place while 24 per cent have digital-ready solutions planned but need further support/capacity. A further 15 per cent do not have a plan but do not need support/capacity while 17 per cent need further support /capacity to help develop their plans.
- Councils are aware of the switchover and most have plans in place to manage it. A number have already started to implement these plans. Most councils are confident that they will be able to manage the switchover with minimal disruption to their telecare services.
- While some councils understand the costs and funding requirement, scoping work is still ongoing in others. A number of councils are yet to identify how they will fund the move and some are considering increasing their charges to service users.
- Councils are concerned that there is a lack of information in relation to the switchover, particularly from service providers. They have also flagged up the potential for technology failure and supply chain issues.
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