Using technology to bring people together during COVID-19

Holcroft House purchased four new tablets so their residents could keep in touch with their families.

Tablet

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen families torn apart, having to isolate in different households.

With lockdown and social distancing in place, whilst absolutely the right thing to do, many families have been incredibly distressed by not being able to see their loved ones.

Care homes have also suffered from outbreaks of the virus and measures were introduced to restrict visitors to avoid the unnecessary spread of COVID-19.

Holcroft House, a care home run by Southampton City Council which is registered to support residents with a diagnosis of dementia, purchased four new tablets so their residents could keep in touch with their families.

Staff have been setting up the tablets to enable their residents to use Skype and WhatsApp. Families can also call through at any time to say hello to their loved one. This two-way communication has been a lifeline for many families.

Mrs Edmonds whose mother is her 70s, said: “Being able to see mum on Skype and WhatsApp was amazing. It was lovely to be able to talk to her on the phone but to be able to see her face and for her to see us was amazing. We were buzzing afterwards as her grandchildren were able to see her too. Mum was more interactive on Skype than she usually is on our weekly visits. It meant the world to me to see my mum. We usually visit every week and our main worry was that she may have thought that we have left her, as we haven’t been able to visit. To be able to tell her we missed her and to blow her kisses, well that can’t be described. We don’t know how long we have left with our wonderful mum so every day not being able to see her is heart wrenching. A voice can tell you some things, but eyes can tell you everything.”

Michelle Fellowes, Manager of Holcroft House, said: “Staff have been working really hard to support the residents with new technologies and we have been delighted with how our residents have responded with their family members online. They have found this fascinating to be able to see and speak to their loved ones live, almost as if they are in the room with them.”

Plans are now being put in place to ensure all care homes in the city have the same technology to enable families to see their family members and alleviate their concerns around their loved one.

Councillor Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “This is such a difficult time for everybody and with access to care homes restricted it’s vital that residents can still communicate with their family and friends. We understand the lack of physical contact is hard, all any of us want to do at the moment is give our loved ones a hug and reassure each other. We are doing all we can to ensure that families are able to maintain visual interaction with their loved ones, as it is invaluable at this difficult and unprecedented time.”