Patients and care home residents connect with loved ones with the help of the NHS

The government has announced that thousands of isolated patients and residents will be able to connect to their friends and family with video devices.

Society’s most at-risk are being helped by the NHSX connect with loved ones. The digital companionship and vital emotional support during COVID-19 has been made possible with the help of technology firms that have been approached by the NSHX.

Facebook will provide up to 2,050 portal video devices free of charge to care homes, hospitals, in-patient learning disability, autism units and hospices.

With support from Accenture, 50 of the devices have already been issued in pilot sites in Surrey, with Newcastle, Manchester and London as well as other areas to follow.

NHSX Digital Transformation Director Iain O’Neil said:

“Technology companies big and small continue to pledge their resources and expertise to support our NHS and social care system in these unprecedented times.

“We are working hard to find and develop services that meet people’s equally unprecedented needs. Technology has never been so important to providing one of life’s most essential things – the ability to communicate with the people we love regardless of where they are.”

The NHSX is also working with a variety of technology companies to not only support the reduction of social isolation, but also support the NHS and social care system in these uncertain times.

Additional support and solutions include improving communication between care and clinical teams, increasing the use of online video GP and primary care consultations, as well as helping health and care staff work remotely if they have to work from home.

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.”

Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum and Care Provider Alliance, said:

“We are thrilled to see solutions being offered to Adult Social Care providers that can support residents in care homes to communicate with their loved ones remotely during this COVID-19 outbreak, and are very much looking forward to hearing how these Facebook Portal devices are used and what impact they have during this difficult time.

“This is a fantastic starting point and with other systems offering similar solutions we are sure that communications between care recipients and their loved ones will continue to be a priority that is supported.”

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“It is great to see Facebook giving care home residents and patients the devices they need to connect with their family and friends at such a challenging time.

“The technology sector is rising to the challenge at this moment of national emergency and we in government are working closely with them to help people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Freddy Abnousi, MD, Head of Health Technology, Facebook said:

“We designed Portal to give people an easy way to connect and be more present with their loved ones. With the global pandemic and social distancing measures, the ability to stay connected is more important than ever.

“That’s why we are piloting a programme with NHSX to provide Portal devices in hospitals and other care settings to support patients and help reduce social isolation.”

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