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When my dad had a stroke back in 2006 I was worried and nervous when he came out of hospital, even though he had an alarm cord in his bathroom, bedroom and hallway, he had nothing in the lounge and nothing about his person should he slip or fall, or have any problems in and around the home.
That's when a friend told me about Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm. Here is my review based on our experience with the phone over the last 18 months since he moved into his new disability bungalow.
**Price and Availability**
The Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm is available from specialist disability shops, which is where we bought ours from, and online at retailers including Amazon. I paid £65 on the high street and it's currently £61.25 on Amazon so the prices seem to be both fair and consistent.
**Why Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm?**
The Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm is more than just a standard big key handset, it comes with an emergency alarm which can be worn on a lanyard (supplied) around the neck or on the supplied wrist strap like a watch. Just press the big alarm button and it will call your emergency contacts in turn (you program three into it so it's more likely you will reach at least one of them).
Obviously your emergency contact needs to have their phones on them (I always recommend a mobile) as missing an emergency call would be unthinkable. For that reason I use my always-on work mobile, husband's mobile, and my dad's sister's landline. It would only ring hubby and then my aunt if I for some reason was unavailable. If I was on the phone the system would try the next number. If I answer it gives a pre recorded emergency message along the lines of 'Mr Bloggs requires assistance, press zero to confirm'.
Aside from the emergency button (which was the main draw of the Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm for me) you can also press one of the red emergency buttons on the phone to make an alert.
This is why we bought the Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm over a standard phone. You can buy systems which connect to a live emergency service but we reckoned this would be a good stop gap as he already has that service corded into his bungalow and this is an added extra, also there is no subscription fee as it just uses your regular telephone connection.
My dad is partially sighted so the three line big letter screen is a welcome sight not only for caller display but for making calls via the phone book too. The big keys mean using the phone is a doddle and the cord is long enough to mean he can sit comfortably and have a conversation. He sometimes uses handsfree, and this is excellent in volume and with the mic.
The build quality of the phone is excellent, very sturdy and styled in silver plastic with black buttons and white text.
In terms of setting it up, I did this for my dad and most elderly or disabled (or both) people would probably go down this route, however for the record it was easy to set up, the instructions were clear and the setup took about 30 minutes. It took my dad a few days to get used to the phone.
If you have a hearing aid this is a hearing aid compatible phone and it also features a red LED light which flashes when there is an incoming call. You can set the phone to 'read' using an electronic type voice from the phone book so for example if I was calling it would say 'Kate calling'. If the number is not stored it reads out the number, which is handy for my dad because if the number is 'international' he will ignore it as it's always a sales call.
I think more than anything this phone is excellent for peace of mind, though it's a great all round disability phone too and my dad certainly is glad he has it. With it's wealth of features for the partially abled like my dad, it's well, well worth the money and is sure to last him. I've never had a real emergency call from it though we test it every 6 weeks to be sure, but it reassures us both to know that he won't have to ever feel alone or scared should anything as bad as his stroke happen again.
If you have the need for it, the Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm is an absolute marvel and it will do you well. It's a lot pricier than a standard phone of course but it is worth the money and I highly recommend it not only as a phone for the disabled or elderly but as an emergency system which is very effective. I highly recommend the Audioline Bigtel 50 Alarm, for the money it's the best non subscription emergency contact phone / system out there today.
As my mum is disabled and living alone since my dad died she wanted to have her independence but
was slightly worried in case she had a fall or became ill and couldn't get to the phone to contact
anyone for help. Although we originally got her a small mobile phone she could keep in her pocket
due to the mobile reception in her house she couldn't always get a signal so we decided to look
at an alarm phone system.
Unlike many alarm phones the Bigtel 50 Alarm phone does not require you to pay a monthly or yearly subscription charge to use the alarm. With this phone alarm you use friends or family numbers for the
emergency calls rather than paying a call centre for monitoring the alarm so you just pay the one off
price for the phone and it's ready to go. Obviously the downside of this is you need to be sure that
the people you choose are likely to have their mobile on 24/7 and are close enough to help if needed
otherwise you might be safer with a subscription service where there will definitely be someone to
answer 24 hours a day.
The phone comes with a remote alarm that can be worn on a lanyard around your neck or on a strap around your wrist with a button to activate the phone to call the 3 emergency numbers you have programmed into the phone. The remote alarm is small and light so it won't get in your way and the button is slightly recessed so there's less chance of pushing it by accident and if you do you just stop
the phone dialing or call the person to let them know you are okay if it has already dialled the number.
The phone itself is an old style corded phone where the receiver is attached to the base unit although
this isn't as convenient as a cordless phone at least there's no chance of it being left uncharged and it
will still work in the event of a power cut due to battery back up. The phone can be wall mounted or sat on a table or desk but due to being a cord phone rather than a cordless phone you are kind of limited by where your phone line point is in the house. In my mums case she still wants to use her cordless phones and keep this for the alarm feature so we had to get a new phone point installed so she could still have the convenience of the cordless phones along with the safety of the emergency alarm on this.
When the alarm button is activated the phone beeps loudly for 15 seconds then it will start to dial
each of the 3 emergency numbers in turn. The phone will dial each number for 1 minute if there
is no answer at the 1st number it will continue to dial each number in succession until it gets an
answer. When the other person answers they will hear your pre recorded message ie "Help Mrs Smith
at 10 Green Street needs assistance please press 0 to confirm" If the call is picked up by an answer machine the phone will ignore it and continue to dial the numbers until someone answers and presses
the 0 to confirm the call. The emergency numbers can also be called by pressing one of the 3 red emergency number buttons above the main number pad on the phone.
The remote alarm requires an A23 battery which should supposedly last around 2 years although I
changed it every 6 months or so to be on the safe side. There is a test function so you can check that
it is working properly and there's also the option to order spare remote alarms if you require an extra
one or you break the original. The remote alarm is claimed to be waterproof and has a range of 30 metres indoors or 50 metres outdoors although this obviously depends on the thickness and the type
of the walls in your house when we tried our one out it worked from every room in my mums 3 bedroom house. The base unit has to be plugged in and requires 4AA batteries as a back up so it can still work in the event of a power cut.
The phone was reasonably easy to set up and the instructions were relatively clear to follow so we
managed to set it up in around an hour with all the numbers in the phone book and the 3 emergency numbers and emergency message. I think recording the emergency message took us longer than anything as we couldn't agree on what to say or who should record it! The 3 emergency numbers can
be mobiles or land lines and obviously it's best to choose family or friends who live close by and are
either home a lot or likely to have their mobile on 24/7 and also make sure they know you've added
their number and have access to keys etc in case of an emergency.
This might not be the most stylish of phones but it does have some helpful features which would be especially useful for anyone with sight or hearing problems. The phone keypad is large and easy to
see and audio recognition means the phone can also tell you the numbers as you type them on the keypad. The phone has a reasonable sized 3 line LCD display which shows incoming call ID and gives access to the menus, phonebook and the time date and number of any missed calls. The phone is
hearing aid compatible and can be set to ring very loudly, normal or silent and a bright red LED
flashes as a call comes in and another flashes to show if there has been a missed call. The phone
also has an amplified receiver and can be used handsfree if required.
One of the best things about this phone is you can program the numbers in the phonebook by voice
so the phone will announce by name who is calling. If the number isn't on the system the phone will
read out the callers number as it rings so you know whether to answer or not which is extremely
handy for avoiding those annoying sales calls or ignoring calls from work on your day off. This means
you don't have to go and look at the LCD display to find out who is calling as you can hear the callers number or name and decide whether to pick up or ignore the call.
My mum found this easy to use and had no problems swapping the emergency numbers when
people were on holiday or changed their number so in all honesty she could have set it up herself
and probably faster than we did it. The only downside she found with the phone was it's quite bulky
due to the large buttons and layout of the phone especially after being used to having a small
cordless phone in a cradle sitting next to you. After 2 years of use the phone was still in perfect
condition and all of the buttons still worked perfectly when we finally gave it away.
This is a great idea for the vulnerable, elderly, disabled or anyone living on their own this allows
them to have their independence but also know that there is some security if something does go
wrong. Thankfully my mum never needed to use the alarm and she now qualifies for the NHS
community alarm which goes through to a 24hr call line. My friends daughter has just moved into
her first flat so we've passed this onto her as she suffers from frequent severe asthma attacks.
She feels more secure knowing she can contact someone at the press of a button and her parents
are a lot happier knowing she's safe and can contact them or her friends if she has an attack and
can't manage to get to the phone or call for help.
We paid £55 for the Audioline and I would say it was worth every penny for the peace of mind it
provides for you and your family. If anyone is looking to buy one of these the phone is available from
several brands we bought one of these for my boyfriends parents and although it is the exact same phone as the Audioline Big Tel 50 I've described above their one is called the Phone Guardian 110
and I've also seen it on Amazon rebadged as the Amplicom PowerTel 50. Current prices range from
around £45 to £68 so as always it's worth shopping around before you buy.