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Downton Abbey to distract the lonely this Christmas

The airing of Downton Abbey's final episode on Christmas Day is expected to be a welcome distraction for those feeling lonely this Christmas.

The EastEnders Christmas special is also predicted to be met with a fall in the number of elderly and vulnerable people using their emergency alarms.

But despite that, personal alarm technology provider Centra Pulse is anticipating calls to more than double over the Christmas period in general

Susan Smart, managing director of Centra Pulse, the UK's largest independent provider of telecare, said: "Every Christmas we respond to a noticeable spike in calls from older and vulnerable people who rely on our support to stay living safely and independently at home.

"We're always fully prepared to offer extra reassurance or emergency support to our customers and their families when it is needed, but would ask everyone to keep an eye on any older relatives or neighbours who may be feeling a little more alone and vulnerable at this time of year."

The care provider is expecting the busiest times to be between 8am and 11am on Christmas Day, with more than 600 calls an hour predicted.

Other peak times include the period after Christmas lunch, after it responded to more than 1,100 calls between 2pm and 4pm last year. From 5pm on Boxing Day last year, 670 calls were made in the hour.

Last year, calls rose 75% from the hourly average of 335 to 570 while the Queen's Speech aired.

But when the two-hour finale of Downton starts on ITV at 8.45pm, the fewest number of calls are expected. During last year's Christmas special, 305 alerts, fewer than half the usual amount, were received.

EastEnders could also provide a distraction on BBC One at 8.45pm or 11pm on BBC Three, with just 162 calls received during the Christmas special last year.

Sam Studwick, 23, a call handler at Centra Pulse, said: "We get more calls from customers who are feeling lonely over Christmas because they haven't seen their relatives.

"There are also more smoke alarm detectors activated on Christmas Day by people who don't cook much for the rest of the year and try and do a roast or forget that they have left something in the oven.

"In those cases we are often able to get in touch with them and prevent a serious fire before the emergency services need to be called out."


From Belfast Telegraph