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Community Alarm Service frequently asked questions

A list of frequently asked questions about the service and how it works.

What is a community alarm?

Community alarms (often known as 'lifelines') provide an emergency telephone link for older and disabled people. They allow people to get in touch with medical and emergency services quickly and reliably, even if they aren't able to get to the telephone or aren't able to speak.

What is the purpose of a community alarm?

The purpose of the alarm is to give added security to the user or to provide reassurance for their informal carer.

How does it work?

Users of the service have a community alarm unit (lifeline) installed in their home, which is connected to the telephone line. This unit is radio controlled by a pendant that is worn around the neck or attached to clothing. This pendant should be worn at all times while the user is at home. If the user has a fall or for some other reason needs help, he or she presses a button on the pendant. It sends out a signal to the telephone which contacts the Community Alarm Service Control Centre.

Is the service available 24 hours a day?

Yes. The Community Alarm Service control centre is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

Does the control centre know who to contact?

Staff at the centre have database information on the user's name and address, doctor, medical history. They also have the names and telephone numbers of people - relatives, friends or neighbours - who have keys to the user's home and are available to help in an emergency. 

What if the person they contact is unable to help?

If a relative, friend or neighbour is unable to help out, then the operator will contact one of the emergency services.

Who qualifies for an alarm?

Anyone who thinks that they may benefit from the peace of mind provided can apply for a community alarm. People may apply in their own right or on behalf of a relative.

Is there a charge?

There is a flat rate annual charge applicable for the provision of a community alarm. This is currently £150.80 exclusive of VAT (four quarterly instalments of £37.70) or £180.96 inclusive of VAT (four quarterly instalments of £45.24) - this charge is only applicable if you are liable to pay VAT, for example, if you have not completed a VAT exemption form.

How do I pay?

Payment can be made by direct debit. You will be sent one annual invoice with payment collected in four quarterly instalments.

We will give you more information about payment when your alarm is supplied. More favourable terms can be requested once you receive your annual invoice if the above arrangement will cause you difficulty.

Note: This charge applies from 1 April 2020 until further notice.

What does this charge include?

The annual charge includes the initial provision and installation of the community alarm equipment, periodic upgrading of equipment as required for technical reasons, connection to the call centre and associated fees, routine maintenance of equipment, including battery replacement and a 365 day repair service.

Note: The charge does not include the cost of any calls made or line rental charges. These will continue to be billed by your telephone service provider in the usual way.

Do I need to test my alarm?

Yes. It is important that your alarm is tested regularly. We recommend that it is tested once a month, to ensure that the battery is in good working order. All you need to do is to press the button on the pendant as though you were calling for help.

Once the call is received by the monitoring centre please inform them that it was a test call and ask if the test was successful.

If the monitoring centre informs you that the battery is low; or if the pendant does not work when you try to test it, please contact the Community Alarm Service Team immediately.

How do I apply to Social Services for an alarm?

You can apply online using our Community Alarm (lifeline) online form.

Apply online for a community alarm (lifeline) Apply online for a community alarm (lifeline)

Or you can apply directly to Social Services yourself, either by telephone or in writing. If you prefer, you could ask your carer, GP, hospital staff, or Health Visitor to get in touch on your behalf.

To apply for an alarm in writing, please use the following address: Community Alarm Service Team

Community Alarm Services telephone calls are routinely voice recorded for quality monitoring purposes.

What if I change my telephone service provider?

If you change your telephone provider please let us know by contacting Community Alarm Service Team. Not all telephone systems use the same technology, and if your new telephone provider's system is different from the one used by your previous provider, we may need to make changes to your alarm system. If this is not done, your alarm may not work properly when you need to use it.