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Video calling: Connecting loved ones throughout COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Jonathan Papworth, Co-founder and Director of Person Centred Software, explains how dedicated video calling for social care can overcome communication challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.


As well as piling strain onto stretched care providers, COVID-19 is exacerbating risks to vulnerable elderly people who are already at high risk of loneliness and isolation. This is a massive concern for care workers, who know that regular conversation and mental stimulation improve morale and wellbeing, which leads to better care outcomes.

Video calling platforms may seem like an obvious solution to keep residents connected, but a major challenge for providers is the time spent setting up and securing accounts on third party video calling systems. This is because for GDPR and data governance reasons it is essential to have separate profiles and login details for every resident – a barrier that has proven too much for many providers.

As such, despite the best efforts of all in our sector, many care residents remain cut off from the outside. And many care homes are still dealing with high volumes of calls from families requesting updates about loved ones, which is taking care staff away from residents.


Connecting residents with the outside

At the outbreak of the pandemic, the team at Person Centred Software quickly realised that communication would be one of the biggest problems faced by providers, residents and families alike.

That is why we rolled out a free version of our Relatives Gateway platform and opened it up to all UK and Ireland care homes. The tool enables care workers to securely share photos and messages from loved ones outside the home with residents and gives care workers an efficient way of providing wellbeing updates to concerned loved ones. The move has proved popular with care providers and, since the outbreak of COVID-19, usage of Relatives Gateway has increased by 50%.

To further improve our support of all on the front line, Person Centred Software has now added secure video calling functionality to Relatives Gateway. This significantly lifts the system’s capabilities at a time when as much face-to-face contact as possible is vital for people’s wellbeing.


Video calling specifically for the care sector

Our new video calling feature uses a unique, time-limited code entry system that eliminates the need for care homes to set up separate login profiles on third party accounts for every single resident. It makes it simple for care workers to manage communication and keeps older people connected with family during this hugely challenging time.

The new video calling functionality is fast to set up and it is GDPR compliant. Once it is live, care homes and managers can easily schedule catch ups for residents and loved ones.

I believe the updated Relatives Gateway platform will help overcome resident loneliness and enable relatives and loved ones to stay in contact. The tool is available to use right now, free of charge throughout the pandemic.


Drawing a line under loneliness

Many care home residents may have lived through wars and times of national crisis, but these brought people closer together. This pandemic is particularly challenging because of the need to isolate to stay safe. Combine this with existing isolation and an unfamiliarity with technology, and it is easy to see why many older people feel particularly alone right now.

We cannot afford to underplay the severity of this. Lost morale and poorer mental health could be major long-term consequences of coronavirus. Every loop around the garden, every passing hello, every bit of contact could be more important than any of us currently realise.

That’s why we’ve vowed to use every ounce of our creativity to develop our support of the sector at this unprecedented time, and why we’re proud to be making video calling a reality for everyone.


With thanks to:
Jonathan Papworth, Co-founder and Director of Person Centred Software. Email: Twitter: @PersonCentredSW

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