Bedale care home is one of many combating lockdown loneliness with new technology

Elderly residents of care homes across North Yorkshire can stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones with new technology to battle loneliness.

During the fight against the coronavirus, staff in care homes across the county have adapted to make sure residents can see the faces of their loved ones despite being in isolation.

Devices to provide video calling are being delivered to the 10 North Yorkshire County Council-run elderly persons’ homes to facilitate video calling.

Staff at each of the homes have been trained in how to use the devices to support residents. The devices include an Echo Show, Facebook Portal and a Fire tablet. Residents can use Skype, WhatsApp and the Alexa to call their families.

An existing programme to install superfast broadband and wifi services at each home was accelerated to be complete when the devices became available for use.

Robert Ling, the County Council’s Technology and Change Assistant Director, said: “This is a prime example of why technology is so important in every area of life and the potential it has to change a situation.

“By using this technology, grandparents can see their grandchildren, wives can see their husbands, people can communicate face to face with their families and loved ones without breaking lockdown rules. This helps to maintain people’s mental wellbeing in very challenging circumstances.”

Dawn Spare, Deputy Manager at Benkhill Lodge, one of the homes to receive the technology, said: “It’s really wonderful for our residents to be able to see the faces of their loved ones – we’ve had a few happy tears from them.

“Having the tablets has been invaluable during this crisis when residents can’t see their friends or families when, normally, having visits would be the highlight of their day. It means families can have ‘virtual visits’ and it’s been brilliant.

“It gives everyone reassurance and peace of mind – families know their relatives in the care home are fine and it’s good for the residents’ mental health and stops them feeling isolated and locked in.”

Resident Carrie Watson, 93, added: “It’s marvellous and makes me feel emotional.”

Joss Harbron, Head of Provider Services, said: “The wellbeing of our residents is paramount to us – and that means every aspect of wellbeing, from physical to mental.

“A conversation with a loved one and being able to see their face will make a massive difference to people living in our care homes and allow them to stay connected during these unprecedented times.

“We are working round the clock to provide the best possible care for the most vulnerable in our communities and our staff are adapting at record pace to meet needs in any way they can.”