Blog | Digital inclusion | Tech for Good

Digital devices on their way to support care homes during the Coronavirus pandemic

By Derek Walker, Chief Executive at the Wales Co-operative Centre

By Mike Erskine · May 28, 2020

See this page in: Cymraeg

This week my colleagues have started to distribute brand new digital tablets to care homes in every corner of Wales, making it possible for older people to consult their doctor and stay in touch with loved ones during this pandemic.

Video conferencing technology designed for this purpose is being rolled out at lightning speed across the health and care sector in Wales. As part of this work, our Digital Communities Wales; Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being programme, has been delivering NHS Wales Video Consulting Service (Attend Anywhere) training for care homes ensuring they can assist residents to use the devices to speak to their doctor when they need to.

Many care homes would not have been able to provide this essential service for their residents without the equipment, digital inclusion support and training.

Derek Walker, Chief Executive, Wales Co-operative Centre

Many care homes would not have been able to provide this essential service for their residents without the equipment, digital inclusion support and training. Through the many calls the team has made connectivity issues have been identified.  Some homes don’t have Wi-Fi access, others have it only in certain areas such as an office or staff room. Those that don’t have Wi-Fi need a SIM enabled device to connect to a mobile network. But many care homes are located in rural areas with poor network coverage, meaning that connectivity is not straightforward. There have been quite a lot of challenges along the way but we are getting there and finding solutions with the help of our partners TEC Cymru and our funders Welsh Government.

The pace of the digital revolution in health and care has picked up dramatically as a result of this crisis. It is clear we are not going back to how things were. Thanks to these new devices, many of our older, most vulnerable citizens will be able to access the health care they need during a time of huge change.

Our team have been working with partners to ensure people are aware of our support and between us we have been in touch with over 1000 care homes across Wales. We cannot respond directly to requests from people and organisations at the moment as we are currently busy delivering the equipment.

If you work in a care home and you haven’t heard from us yet, we will be in touch with you in the coming weeks to offer training and support. In the meantime, please find below a simple FAQs we’ve pulled together to tell you everything there is to know.

FAQ’s

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen our care homes in lockdown. Residents are unable to see health professionals face-to-face and are also unable to receive visits from family and friends. Digital devices are now the main way people can access important health consultations or stay in touch with loved ones.

Our Welsh Government funded programme, Digital Communities Wales; Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being has been working with care homes for many years, but the Covid-19 crisis has created an unprecedented and urgent need for our support. We’re proud to be working alongside NHS colleagues, TEC Cymru and other partners to help care home staff.

Thanks to £800k in additional funding from Welsh Government, we are loaning tablet devices to care homes across Wales. The tablets come equipped with mobile data, if required, a range of useful apps and a supply of sanitising wipes.

With over 15 years’ experience in tackling digital exclusion in Wales, the staff at the Wales Co-operative Centre who form part of the Digital Communities team, will be delivering online training to over 1,000 care homes across Wales. This support is being offered to ensure that care homes have everything they need to use the NHS Wales Video Consulting Service.

This service is delivered via a communication platform called ‘Attend Anywhere’, and will be used by general practices, hospital out-patients departments and other healthcare settings, allowing residents to access medical consultations from the home without needing to travel.

As well as enabling care home residents to access the video consulting service, our work will also mean that care home residents can stay in touch with family, friends and neighbours. We are providing training on how care homes can help their residents keep in touch and sharing useful resources. This will help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and ease anxiety for the residents and their loved ones.