The best technology is sometimes the simplest, which is why personal emergency response systems are so popular with seniors even in an age when smartphones are everywhere. Small screens and complicated menus can slow down calls for help. That’s why some companies that design cell phones also offer more streamlined emergency call devices.
GreatCall is a California-based company that specializes in personal emergency response devices, adaptive cell phones, and other health and safety tools for seniors. Its products include the Jitterbug cell phone series and the updated Splash personal safety device.
GreatCall’s Splash mobile personal emergency response device is a wireless waterproof call button with 2-way audio and built-in GPS location technology. Splash works at home and on the go. The device is worn as a pendant or on a wristband and comes with a drop-in cradle charger; an optional car charger is also available.
There are 3 monitoring service packages available for the Splash:
- The basic plan includes 5Star monitoring and operator response in an emergency. Operators can call EMS, police or fire on your behalf, contact family, or summon other help. Operators remain on the line with clients until help arrives.
- The preferred plan adds access to the GreatCall Link smartphone app that lets users connect with family and caregivers so they can receive updates on your location and wellbeing. Preferred plan subscribers also get access to round-the-clock urgent care telephone services—registered nurses and board-certified physicians who can answer health questions and handle some prescriptions.
- The ultimate plan adds automatic fall detection and emergency response, as well as device replacement in the event that the original Splash is lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair.
Monitoring service for GreatCall costs less than many competing personal emergency response services, and the optional telephone nurse and doctor service is an uncommon amenity. Operators are based in the US and certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch. The drop-in cradle charger for the Splash device is easier to use than plug-in charger cables. Shoppers can order the device and monitoring service online at GreatCall’s website or through Amazon, Walmart, and other major retailers. As of July 2015, GreatCall has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been an accredited member since 2006.
The wristbands offered by GreatCall are designed to hold the Splash perpendicular to the band, which may feel awkward to some users because the device is 2” by 3”. (Lanyards are also available.) GreatCall’s website says it will make an effort to accommodate customers who need monitoring response in languages other than English but that it cannot guarantee availability.
The Splash device carries a 1-year warranty on materials and construction. 5Star monitoring service can be cancelled over the phone. Users who prepay an annual fee can receive a prorated refund for the unused amount after termination of service.
The GreatCall Splash device costs $50 plus sales tax and a $35 activation fee at the company’s online shop. Authorized retailers including Amazon and Walmart may offer the device at lower prices. Basic monthly monitoring costs $20, preferred monitoring costs $25 per month, and ultimate monitoring, which includes automatic fall detection, costs $35 per month.
Seniors who want a wearable, waterproof personal emergency response device and who don’t want to navigate a cellphone or need a call-box base station in their home.