An innovative "house of the future" which allows elderly people to stay at home rather than go into care has been developed in the West Midlands.
The home is fitted with a range of electronic equipment designed to ensure residents are safe and well, and to summon help in case of an emergency.
It was developed in Sandwell, and is now to be extended across the country in an £ 80 million programme announced by Health Minister Liam Byrne, MP for Hodge Hill in Birmingham.
The scheme, called Telecare, uses equipment such as motion sensors which can detect if someone falls over.
A flood detector could be installed to pick up whether a resident leaves the tap on too long, and other sensors can detect extremes of temperature and gas leaks.
Front doors have "bogus callers" button that can be pressed if the resident thinks she is being approached by a distraction burglar.
And a sophisticated computer system will learn the daily routine of householders, and react if they break that routine, for example by wandering around at night or failing to eat.
Relatives, social workers or doctors will be alerted automatically if there is any cause for concern.
The result is that elderly people who would otherwise need to go into residential care can stay at home for far longer.
So far, 100 people in Sandwell have benefited from the scheme. The spending announced by Mr Byrne will allow 160,000 people across the country to live in Telecare homes.
He said: "My number one priority as a Minister is delivering dignity for life. I have responsibility for older people's health and also adult social services.
"Coming from Hodge Hill where there is a very big retired community, I have learned a lot about what older people want to see from health and social services.
"What people say is they want the opportunity to live independently, they want the chance to stay in control of their own lives for as long as possible."
Governments across the world had been looking into similar schemes, he said.
Surveys showed that 90 per cent of elderly people want to live independently at home, including 35 per cent of those living in residential homes.
The Department of Trade and Industry and BT have helped developed the Telecare system.