Eastbourne’s specialist provider of independent living services is celebrating 30 years since the town’s lifeline service was launched.
Established in June 1986, Eastbourne Lifeline pioneered a new emergency call system for elderly and disabled people allowing them to live in their own homes with around-the-clock access to specialist help at the push of a button. The service also incorporated Eastbourne Council’s Sheltered Homes.
Users were given a pendant alarm and telecare base unit which gave them instant communication with trained control centre staff in case of difficulties. A response service was provided by two mobile wardens who visited customers in their own homes, installing and testing the units.
A small team of operators manned the control centre, based at Upwyke House in Green Street, on a 24 hour basis ready to give appropriate assistance for the individual’s needs. The centre quickly outgrew this accommodation and moved to Grove Road.
Eastbourne Lifeline grew in popularity year by year and in 2005 Eastbourne Borough Council and Wealden District Council merged operations and renamed it as Welbeing.
From its humble beginnings supporting 2,000 customers in its first year, the service has undergone a massive expansion in 30 years. Welbeing now helps 60,000 elderly and disabled people live independently through its wide range of telecare sensors, with more than 70 products on offer to minimise risks such as falls, gas and flood detection and other emergencies.
Employee numbers have increased dramatically too, from just 25 staff in 1986 to more than 130 in 2016. At the start, the control centre had 13 telephone operators and this figure has risen to 45. And Welbeing now operates from two bases in the town - St Leonards Road and Birch Industrial Estate.
Welbeing has extended its reach across the country and is the chosen partner to more than 50 public sector organisations including East and West Sussex County Councils, Chester West and Cheshire, Camden and Luton Councils.
Charlene Saunders, Marketing Manager at Welbeing, said, “It’s amazing how much the service has grown over the last three decades both in terms of the huge numbers of customers we now have nationwide, and the extensive array of telecare options we offer.
“Some 1.7million people in the UK rely on telecare or a telehealth service to enable them to live safely in their own homes and we are proud to be a leading provider in this field.”
Peter Baverstock, who created and initially ran Eastbourne Lifeline, said, “I am really proud of how the service has developed over the last 30 years. This was the first of its kind in the country and it is a tribute to staff past and present that Welbeing has grown into a major provider of this important service. Now in my 70s and still working I look forward eventually to being a customer myself.”