Webwatch: Care homes in Scotland to receive iPads to stay connected with family and friends

Care homes will be given iPads to help residents keep in contact with family and friends, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The Scottish Government will provide “one or two” tablets to every care home in Scotland for personal calls and medical consultations.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Monday, Ms Sturgeon stressed the devices will not be “a substitute” for in-person visits but could allow residents to see and speak to loved ones when visits are restricted.

The First Minister said funding has been committed to providing all care homes in Scotland with at least one tablet.

“This will enable more than 1,400 care homes to help their residents to stay connected with family and friends while visiting remains restricted,” she said.

“It will also help clinicians such as GPs or speech and language therapists with remote consultations when that is necessary.

“That will allow them to assess residents health conditions without always needing to visit in person.”
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Current rules allow designated visitors to see residents indoors but only in certain care homes and those that fulfil criteria such as weekly testing of staff.

Residents are also allowed up to six outdoor visitors at one time from no more than two households.

Ms Sturgeon added: “The iPads are not intended to be a substitute for personal visits to care homes – we know and understand how vital in-person visits are both for residents and for their family members.

“For that reason, we are currently finalising our plans to ensure that routine visits from designated visitors can take place as safely as possible.

“As we’ve indicated before, these plans will include regular testing of care home visitors. and the Health Secretary will set out further details soon, probably in a statement to Parliament next week.

“However, this funding will give care home residents an additional way of keeping in touch with family and friends and receiving expert clinical advice.”

After the briefing, the Scottish Government announced £1 million has been identified to fund the iPad project, with all care homes able to apply for up to two devices.

The scheme is based on a pilot that provided digital devices to six care homes in Aberdeenshire to address digital exclusion, supported by Scottish Care, the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said: “We hope that it is the start of an increased recognition 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.”

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