- Completely mobile
- Urgent Care + GreatCall Link
- Fall detection
- Advanced monitoring
- Lively Wearable
- 5Star Urgent Response
- No environmental detectors
- Requires purchase of the button
GreatCall is a company established back in 2006 with the purpose of helping elderly age in an active way. They offer numerous technological innovations that help them in their everyday life, like the Jitterbug smartphone, that has an extra large screen with extra large icons. Still, they are most known for their personal emergency services. After Splash, their latest hit in the medical alert word, the company developed a new wonder, called Lively. Alongside its smaller brother, the athletic Lively Wearable, Lively creates an invisible safety net around the elderly. The waterproof and completely mobile button has no base unit, supports fall detection, and most notably: it’s backed up by numerous monitoring services. The device is sold separately at a low-entry price of $49.99 and comes with a monthly monitoring service fee starting from $19.99 for the Basic plan with GreatCall’s 5Star service.
GreatCall prides itself on its superb monitoring service called 5Star Urgent Response. It’s the peak of modern eldercare, as they operate a fully U.S. based service, where trained certified response agents are waiting for your incoming call 24/7. 5Star is ready to help in a broad scale of emergencies, which earned them partnerships with a number of respected public safety organizations including the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).
Upon pressing your button, their staff will contact you as quickly as possible, and assess the situation. They know how to handle serious injuries, stroke victims or even an event where the victim is unconscious. But they are available in non-life threatening situations as well. They have access to the built-in GPS tracker inside the button, so the agents can safely navigate home a lost elderly. Not to mention the staff is skilled in medical symptoms, so when a senior is feeling weak or experiencing heavy pain, they can be called to decide whether further help is needed from 911 or other emergency services. We also wish to compliment 5Star for the fact that they remain on the line while the paramedics arrive, soothing and reassuring the elderly.
GreatCall established fall detection in a rather unique way. Normally none of the presented medical alert devices (Lively or Lively Wearable) are capable of accurately signaling a sudden movement or height change. However, putting either of the two in a special lanyard accessory set – provided only for those who opt for the Ultimate plan – opens up this capability. The lanyard set senses when the wearer falls, and the medical alarm button immediately calls a 5Star certified response agents who confirms the emergency and dispatches help if necessary.
The greatest virtue of Lively is that it steps out of the boundaries of old-fashioned medical alert systems by discarding the base unit. Now the mobile unit attends all tasks. It houses a two-way microphone, so after pressing the button, you can speak directly into it, as if it were a mobile phone. It comes with a cradle charger and accessory clips, so you are free to attach it to your belt or just shove it into your pocket. Lively fits in your palm, it’s very light to carry, and highly waterproof.
Still, the added fall detection option is where the device shines. The batteries can last quite a while, but the company recommends users to charge it on a daily basis to prevent unwanted situations where the unit goes dead during an emergency. In case you are interested, additional accessories can be purchased, like a wristband or a protective case.
As a sub-version of Lively, Lively Wearable combines active lifestyles with protection. It’s designed to be worn as a wristband or pendant, and it measures your daily step count, offering mental motivation to stay in shape with regular jogging exercises. Besides the fitness mode, it grants occasional tips and goals, not to mention it knows all the tricks Lively has. It’s waterproof, it can come with fall detection technology, connects to other devices via Bluetooth, and most importantly, functions as a medical alert button. The same 5Star Agents can be contacted with a push of a button. Lively Wearable is far more stylish than Lively, and even though it lacks a vital feature – the two-way microphone – it’s still a great companion for active elderly.
Getting things rolling is really easy with Lively, since you don’t need a home base to fiddle with; there’s no playing with the plugs and wires. In case you brought your medical alert button from a retailer (Amazon, Walmart etc.) then you need to activate your unit on the GreatCall.com website before booting up the device. Otherwise just turn it on and initiate a test call. GreatCall offers one year of warranty for all of its products, and they’re willing to replace any lost or damaged item during this period. As for the shipping, you can choose between the standard and expedited delivery. The former is free and takes between 3-7 business days, while the other promises delivery in 1-3 business days for $20.
GreatCall established a segmented, but easy to follow pricing tactic. To be simple: you buy your device separately and own it (rather than renting it, which is the case with most other medical alert companies), and then decide which service package you want to use with it. Both Lively and Lively Wearable cost $49.99 each without the added monthly service fee. There are three types of service packages with varying levels of support features. The Basic plan is the most cost effective, charging you $19.99 per month, but in exchange you only receive access to the 5Star Urgent Response system.
Choosing the Preferred plan instead raises the amount billed each month to $24.99, but you also get to enjoy the Urgent Care and GreatCall Link services. Urgent Care provides 24/7 support by a network of registered nurses and board-certified doctors, meaning that you are able to ask help in non-emergency issues as well. If you feel sick or need advice, you can call the doctors at Urgent Care for recommended medication. GreatCall Link is known for providing peace of mind for family members and caregivers, rather than the elderly user. This is an app that works in conjunction with Lively, informing authorized caregivers about the well-being and status of the senior user.
Jumping back to the medical alert packages, the last plan is the Ultimate plan. As its name indicates, it grants access to all previously mentioned features for $34.99 per month, while adding fall detection and product replacement guarantees to the mix. In case your GreatCall unit is lost, the company sends a replacement within a week. Keep in mind that a $15 replacement fee applies to Lively, and only one exchange is allowed per year.
GreatCall doesn’t work with annual contracts, meaning that you aren’t forced to commit yourself for longer periods of time. However, this also means that the prices won’t drop with longer subscriptions. You can decide the length of your contract, but the prices remain the same, which is a shame. It’s also noteworthy that even if you choose the Basic plan, you can still upgrade the service by manually picking one of the extra features. For example, Urgent Care can be enjoyed separately for $4 per month. You can opt individually for product replacements as well, which costs $3 or $4 per month depending on your device.
We found GreatCall’s website a bit lackluster when it comes to informing people. Sure, it’s well designed and they are eager to tell you about the benefits of their products, but other than the marketed positives it’s hard to find relevant information. The main reason for this is the missing FAQ segment, or any noteworthy tutorial material or video. GreatCall operates a YouTube channel, but they have no videos about the use of Lively. Still, the company can be contacted by shooting the customer department an email or calling them over the phone. The service currently holds an A+ at Better Business Bureau, proving their overall effectiveness.
Lively combines the professionalism of GreatCall’s 5Star monitoring services with a feature-rich, yet feather weighted alarm button. Mobility is the strength and also the weakness of the service. You don’t need to install a base unit, or restrict your daily routine to stay within its coverage. The button is waterproof, provides fall detection, GPS and above all: it’s capable of two-way communication. However, the strong focus on the independent unit means that there are no environmental units, pill dispensers or wall buttons to be added to the medical alert system, and the button must be charged on a daily basis. The 5Star Ready Response monitoring service is superb, not to mention the additional services like GreatCall Link and Urgent Care. These extras come at a higher entry price, though you do enjoy the freedom of choosing which ones of these you actually want to have and pay extra for. You have no other choice but to purchase the Lively button at $49.99, after which you pay a monthly fee that is lower than with competing medical alert companies. GreatCall occasionally holds sales and promotions where they’ll give you a discount between 25-50% on their equipment, resulting in even faster savings on a monthly basis. If you seek to invest in flawless protection with great mobility, GreatCall delivers it.