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By Jove, they've gone and done it! The dynamic duo behind the Council of the Future Analogue to Digital Telecare Project have brought home silverware from The Herald Digital Transformation Awards 2021.

Pauline Waddell and Ian Whitelaw attended the virtual ceremony and literally nearly brought the house down when a small fire broke out in Pauline’s kitchen just as the award ceremony started!

Thankfully the smoke had cleared by the time former television presenter Sarah Heaney announced, 'Going Digital to Save Lives!’ had scooped the Digital Communities Award.

Community benefit

The project was one of six shortlisted in the category which aimed to shine a light on ‘an individual, group or organisation who has used technology to help their local community’.

The judges unanimously agreed that the Council’s entry was the winner, stating they were "very impressed by the work and effort put in by Falkirk Council to ensure the safety of its most vulnerable".

They recognised the project had never been done before in Scotland and commended the Council for being agile, working alongside Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership to overcome barriers caused by outdated technology and put in place new infrastructure.

Ian and Pauline with the digitally enabled MECS device

Pictured: Ian and Pauline with the digitally enabled MECS box.


Earlier this year the work of the project team ensured the Council became the first local authority in Scotland to go live with an end-to-end digital telecare service, securing the Gold Level 1 Digital Telecare Implementation Award in March. 

With the imminent 100% transfer of Mobile Emergency Care Service (MECS) users to the digital system, work now begins in earnest to move the service to the cloud and investigate how smart devices could provide service users with more freedom and independence at home.

Making it happen

Speaking after the award ceremony, Pauline said:

"We didn’t set out to win awards for our work, but we are delighted to have picked up this accolade as it highlights the public sector can be truly innovative. This project was always about saving lives. We recognised early on that switching off analogue phone lines would have serious and life-threatening consequences for our service users. Ensuring their safety, and ultimately their independence at home, has kept us focused throughout and we’re very excited about the benefits the next steps could bring."

Ian added:

“Breaking new ground isn’t easy. There were times when Pauline and I weren’t sure if the project was even possible, but we constantly looked outside the box and took advice from everywhere we could to make things happen. This project couldn’t have achieved what it has without the help of external partners, the hard work and dedication of the whole MECS and Call Handling teams and the belief service users have in us. They championed us every step of the way.”

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