HEALTH iPad boost for care home residents

Government pledge intended to help reduce loneliness and isolation


Around 1,400 care homes in Scotland will be able to apply for up to two iPads each after a £1m government funding pledge was unveiled to support residents through the winter months. Care homes across the country

will be entitled to receive the devices so residents can keep connected with friends and loved ones during lockdown, helping to reduce loneliness and isola- tion – and to support the clinical management of health conditions remotely. All care homes will be able to

apply for the devices for residents thanks to combined Scottish Government funding from the Connecting Scotland programme, which has committed £500,000 to the initiative, on top of £500,000 allocated in the Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness plan. Tis follows a pilot project that

provided digital devices to six care homes in Aberdeenshire to address digital exclusion, sup- ported by Scottish Care, the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC). Te health secretary, Jeane

Freeman, said: “Digital devices can never replace human interac- tion and we continue both to actively review what more we can do to support visiting with input from family members, carers, and clinicians and finalise our plans for routine designated visitor testing. But the pandemic has shown us that digital technology can help keep us in touch with our loved ones and provide vital access to healthcare through

Residents are able to use the devices to keep in regular contact with their loved ones

services such as Near Me for video consultations. “Tis fund will give care home

residents an additional way to keep in touch with family and friends.” Dr Donald Macaskill, chief

executive of Scottish Care, said: “Te funding which has been an- nounced by the health secretary will help to improve connection for many. We hope that it is the start of an increased recogni- tion of the critical contribution of technology in the care home sector and that we will see an enhanced commitment to the appropriate use of technology and digital in social care as a whole.” Isla Cowe, acting care home

manager at Allachburn Care Home in Aboyne, said: “Many of our resi- dents have really embraced this new technology and are delighted to be in regular contact with their loved ones. It really makes the dif- ference to their general wellbeing and they don’t feel such a sense of loss at being unable to have the physical contact with their fami- lies at this time.

“Having the Near Me tech-

nology has proved so useful in reducing the number of people who need to visit whilst still be- ing able to provide the same level of service that our residents and their families would expect. We recently had a consultation using this technology with the speech and language therapy team, and were able to change the course of action to be taken for this particular gentleman, which has proved immensely beneficial to the care that we deliver to him.”

Connecting Scotland is a Scottish Government programme set up in response to coronavirus to pro- vide digital devices and support to develop digital skills for people who are digitally excluded and on low incomes. Te government also commit-

ted to publishing a ‘Digital in Care Homes Action Plan’ to ensure residents and staff in our care homes can benefit from a range of digital tools and approaches and it will make NHS email accounts

available to all care homes to pro- vide greater communication and integration of services. It will look to build upon the

success of the use of Near Me video consulting by extending its uptake into social care and care homes. In addition, a digital tool will be rolled out to support peo- ple with Covid-19 and its longer- term effects to help them manage their condition from home and a clinical assessment tool to enable an early diagnosis of the virus for care home residents following initial testing. Technology and digital support

was outlined as one of three delivery mechanisms contained in a new Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness Plan 2020-21 along- side ‘communication, cohesion and collaboration’ and ‘financial commitments’. Te Scottish Government has

allocated a total of £150m for social care as part of its additional Covid-19 funding to help the social care sector deal with the financial implications of the pandemic. l

FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 | 27

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