VOICE activated technology, sensors and GPS trackers are some of the high-tech solutions set to be used in the homes of Dorset's elderly residents over the next five years. The use of assistive technology was discussed by members of Dorset Council's cabinet at a recent meeting.

Spend on adult social care in the county is currently forecast to be £2.4 million over budget by the end of the financial year, including £208,000 extra spent on wages than expected.

Cllr Laura Miller, brief holder for adult social care, told the cabinet meeting that work was being carried out to help older people stay in their homes for longer – reducing the need for residential care or admission to hospital.

She said she was "excited" by the prospect of using more assistive technology in Dorset with homes and, in some cases, individuals fitted with sensors, GPS trackers, voice activated technology and environmental sensors.

A report to the meeting by Mathew Kendall, executive director of people, said: “Assistive technology has a strong evidence base demonstrating its ability to increase wellbeing, reduce more costly health and care interventions and maintain people’s independence for longer.

"Feedback from other local authorities has indicated that greater investment in assistive technology delivers significant efficiencies, especially in terms of cost avoidance.”

Cabinet members unanimously backed the roll out of some types of assistive technology for use in the county over the next five years. It will involve the assessment, installation and monitoring of different options, working with a careline provider and responder service.

The meeting heard Hampshire County Council achieved £9.8m savings over five years from a similar scheme and Buckinghamshire County Council achieved £1.25m net savings in the first year.

Almost 1,000 people in Dorset currently receive careline services, with some assistive technology, which should increase to more than 1,500 by the end of the fifth year.

A projection says expanding the service would result in an additional investment of £776,000, but gross savings over the five years of £1.74 million, or a net saving of £972,000.