Supporting care homes during the pandemic

COVID-19 has had a huge effect on Care Homes across Leeds, residents have not had access to see friends and family and the pandemic has disrupted routine and affected mental wellbeing. 

Through the support of 100% Digital Leeds, Care Home staff have now become Digital Champions, this has enabled them to inspire and engage residents to take their first steps online, supporting self-management and connecting them with friends and family whilst in isolation. 

Residents and staff across Leeds Care Delivery Service are now embracing the use of digital technology throughout Care Homes which has been life changing for so many.

The 100% Digital Leeds Tablet Lending Scheme has given a number of 4G enabled iPads to Care Homes across the city which have been pre-loaded with Age Friendly Apps which are inspiring residents to go online. 

The approach has been person-centred and staff have used ‘hooks’ and ‘tools’ that link to residents hobbies and interests which has encouraged the development of resident’s digital skills and confidence, by using Colouring apps for Mindfulness and Quizzes for entertainment and interaction.

Keeping in Touch

With encouragement and guidance from the Digital Champions, residents are now using the iPads to make daily video calls to keep in touch with their families.    

“The residents love seeing their families and friends over the video calls, with tears of happiness and often blowing kisses and hugging the iPad for a virtual hug”

Families have also been able to show their loved ones around their houses as many have not visited for years.

“We were able to support one family whose loved one was at the end of her life stay in touch with daily video calls and they were able to say the Lord’s Prayer together and have quality conversations where they could see each other in her last days”

Many family members and residents have become very anxious at not being able to see each other for such a long time which has had an impact on their mental health and wellbeing.  The video calls have really supported mental wellbeing and left residents feeling less agitated and ‘lonely’. 

‘’We have stayed in touch with regular video calls and it has been lovely to keep in touch with Nan, we can’t wait until we can take her out!’’

“Prior to the support of 100% Digital Leeds and the digital technology, there was a considerable amount of residents feeling very uneasy, unsure of the current situation and feeling very confused.  The iPads have given many residents a reason to smile and a reason to get dressed because they get to see someone they love on the screen that day”

Video Appointments

With the support of the 100% Digital Leeds Tablet Lending Scheme staff across the Care Homes are also using Zoom calls to have weekly meetings with local GP’s and nurses as part of a new personalised service for residents.

“Giving residents the opportunity to access online consultations and video appointments through lockdown has been amazing where residents have been able to speak face to face with their GP’s”

Staff have also used the technology to facilitate emergency admissions through the use of video assessments where residents have required support with equipment that needed prior assessment.

Occupational therapists advised staff on moving and handling techniques with the equipment, and Care Home staff used the iPads to video the residents being supported for the assessments, which enabled the Occupational Therapists to complete their assessment. 

Fun and Laughter

The iPads have also enabled residents to continue to engage with their local communities and places of worship by listening and watching their local church services which are streamed live and posted on YouTube. Residents either watch the service independently on an iPad or the device is connected to one of the televisions in a communal area for people to enjoy watching together whilst practicing social distancing.

Now the football has returned to our televisions, iPads have provided fantastic mood-boosting for catching up with sporting events and matches, which many of the residents miss going to in their younger days. Come on LUFC!

One resident who uses the iPad to play games and FaceTime her family said

“It’s marvellous, it brings me so much joy, I miss seeing my family and this just makes me smile.  I like doing the crosswords on the iPads too, it keeps the brain going!”

Residents across the Care Delivery Service in Leeds also enjoyed celebrating the Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox, this is usually a community event however due to lockdown they celebrated it this year via Zoom.  Digital enabled all of the Care Homes to connect with each other for a fun afternoon of songs, lots of waving at the screen and high tea with scones, jam and cream!

Introducing ‘Alexa’

100% Digital Leeds supported Care Homes with Amazon Echo Show Devices at the start of the pandemic alongside the iPads. 

Through the success of using Alexa’s amongst carers and people living with Dementia through the NHS Widening Participation Dementia Pathfinder in Leeds, it has been great to see the benefits they can have for boosting mental wellbeing and supporting self-management and we wanted to share this amongst the Care Homes.  

“One of the Alexa’s lives in the dining room and residents who sit in there enjoy asking Alexa to play their favourite music throughout the day, they start their morning with the Drifters and then in the afternoon enjoy playing songs such as the Birdy song to have a dance and giggle!”

Residents have been getting used to having this new ‘friend’ in their Home and can’t believe how clever it is and how much it knows!

“Joan is very polite when speaking to Alexa, she uses her telephone voice and says please and thank you!  Everyone loves Alexa! Asking Alexa for NHS information and using it to symptom check has also been useful and it now feels like a true companion for many of the residents, it’s part of the furniture!”

There are a variety of benefits to using the Alexa’s within Care Homes, using the Alexa Skills sheet produced by 100% Digital Leeds has given Digital Champions ideas and inspiration for using these to inspire residents to take their first steps online.

Staff have enjoyed using the ‘Daily Compliment’ which has boosted many of them on more challenging days!

“This digital technology has brought so many positive experiences over the challenging last 4 months and is continuing to create opportunities for meaningful activities in so many ways.”

Thank you to Leeds Care Delivery Service for sharing this heartwarming update on how digital is having such a incredible impact on the lives of people across Care Homes in Leeds. We look forward to hearing more!

Following on from the success of loaning iPads and Alexa’s to Care Homes, 100% Digital Leeds are now beginning to loan Virtual Reality Headsets. These will be used for mindfulness to support mental wellbeing but to also give residents an opportunity to escape the current situation with a trip to the moon, a walk around Australia or even to explore the Sahara Desert!