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iPads to help care home residents stay in touch

Southampton City Council in partnership with NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have supplied iPad Carts to every care home in Southampton to help keep residents in touch with loved ones and health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year care homes have suffered from outbreaks of the virus and measures were introduced to restrict visitors to avoid the unnecessary spread of COVID-19. The city-wide roll out of 60 iPads on moveable carts comes after a successful pilot earlier this year at Holcroft House, a care home run by Southampton City Council, which is registered to support residents with a diagnosis of dementia. Here, residents were reported to be engaging well with people on-screen and the feedback is that the two-way communication has been a lifeline for many families. The roll out of these devices will enable care homes to conduct video consultations with health and social care professionals during the continued pandemic. Residents can also use the devices to use Skype and WhatsApp to keep in touch with family and friends whilst COVID-19 visiting restrictions are in place. Families can call through at any time to say hello to their loved one. Barclays Digital Eagles, as part of a partnership with NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, have supported care homes to set up their iPads and helped to build skills and confidence with their functionality as part of the digital skills training scheme for Care Homes across the Hampshire and Isle of Wight region. This is an example of the great work undertaken by the Integrated Commissioning Unit in Southampton. This team is jointly appointed by the local NHS and Southampton City Council and aims to improve health and care services in the city.

Mrs Edmonds, whose mother is in her 70s and at Holcroft House, 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.” Arceli Deleon, Registered Manager at Aspen Lodge Care Home, said: The iPad carts and the digital support is invaluable especially during these challenging times. With the iPad, our communication with health care professionals and families will be greatly improved and we are already planning what activities our residents might enjoy doing using the iPad.”

Councillor Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care said:

“This is such a difficult time for everybody and with access to some care homes restricted it’s vital that residents can still communicate with their family and friends. 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. The new iPad roll out across the care homes in the city enables families to see their family members and alleviate their concerns around their loved one.”

Tony Ives, Head of Barclays Digital Eagles, said:

“This year our Barclays Digital Eagles have committed to delivering digital training to care home staff and residents. Our programme has given both care home staff and residents the confidence and skills to use technology to keep entertained and stay connected with friends and family.”


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