A CARE home in Bradford is trialling new technology aimed at helping residents keep in touch during the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff from Anchor’s Springfield in Western Way, Buttershaw, have been given a free Facebook Portal as part of a project run by the social media giant and the NHS to reduce social isolation during the outbreak.

The devices, which have been issued to all of Anchor’s 114 care homes in England, have been used by residents in many different ways to help them keep in touch with loved ones, friends and fellow care home residents.

From the end of May, the homes will provide feedback on the devices and how they were used to support residents.

Residents at Springfield have used the device to contact relatives, some living as far away as Spain and France.

Vicki Hemsworth, Manager of Springfield, said the portals were particularly important for residents living with dementia as it was difficult for them to understand why their relatives were unable to visit them.

She said all the residents had benefited from using the portals, especially Shirley Noble, who was able to hold a virtual 90th birthday with her family, and Valerie Sanders (below) who uses the device to speak to her family regularly.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Vicki said: “We can tell what a positive difference it makes to the residents due to their expressions, their body language and the mood afterwards.

“This has given us a lot more freedom to contact families any time of day as many relatives don’t live in Bradford and can only visit in normal circumstances maybe once a month. Some residents have large families so they can now see and talk to more than one relative at once.

“It’s important we test the device’s potential and our feedback is used to make any necessary improvements so that older people across the country can use them to boost their social interaction with friends and family.

“Residents living in Anchor’s care homes have long benefited from the variety of technology we use whether it’s been iPads, interactive tables where shapes and games are projected onto a tabletop, or virtual reality headsets. The portal is an extension of this.”

The UK government has backed the pilot scheme as it boosts important connectivity between care home residents and their families during the coronavirus lockdown.

Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “Social distancing is tough on us all, and we must remember how beneficial interaction with loved ones is for our wellbeing.

“I’m delighted that NHSX is partnering with Facebook to make it easier for those in care homes to keep in touch with friends and family, alongside the ongoing hard work by NHSX to expand communication capabilities across the health and social care sector.”