More than 100 iPads donated by Wigan Council have helped care home residents stay in touch with family and friends during the pandemic.
With social distancing measures in place and all non-essential visits from family and friends temporarily stopped in the past few months, care homes have been using tools like Skype and FaceTime to help residents stay connected with loved ones.
Each of the borough’s 54 care homes have been supplied with two iPads to not only keep people connected but to support GP virtual ward rounds, digital consultations and for virtual meetings with partners across the Healthier Wigan Partnership.
It has meant relatives have not missed out on special moments like silver wedding anniversaries and 100th birthday celebrations.
One example at Lime House Care Home in Lowton saw staff help 100-year-old Bertha and her family celebrate her special day.
The donated iPads from the council meant that Bertha’s family were able to have a virtual party and watched on as she blew candles out on her cake, opened presents and opened her card from the Queen last week.
Kath Hurst, Lime House’s manager said: “The iPads have been a fantastic tool for us during the last few months.
“Bertha’s daughter said the Zoom meeting via the iPad was fantastic and the family haven’t stopped talking about the day.
“They have also been used for the staff to access training and to have conversations with residents families and friends. Ward rounds by the GP is something we were thinking of introducing too as when we previously did it over the phone the picture quality wasn’t good.”
While some of the borough’s care home had tablets at their disposal to start with, Wigan Council wanted to make sure every home had the best possible digital capacity and flexibility to cope with the new way of operating from the outset.
The supply of 4G sim cards also meant there would be no interruption for devices that couldn’t access Wi-Fi
Coun Keith Cunliffe, deputy leader and cabinet member for adult and social care, said: “We know how much our residents rely and miss their regular visits from family and friends so we wanted to make sure from the outset that provisions were in place to ensure they didn’t feel isolated.
“Our staff have been amazing since the start and organised lots of fun activities to keep residents entertained and happy but the special feeling of seeing a loved one’s face is irreplaceable and something we wanted to make sure could still be made a reality.“The current circumstances we all find ourselves in make visiting extremely difficult so it’s been a fantastic means of communication and a lifeline for many in the borough.”