Public Sector Focus

09.04.20

NHSX partners with tech firms to reduce social isolation

A new partnership between NHSX and technology firms is helping vulnerable care home residents to connect with their loved ones during this period of isolation.

The ability to communicate with friends and family can provide vital emotional support to those currently living in isolation.

The Government has announced today (Apr 9) that thousands of residents and patients will have access to video calls thanks to this new collaboration, which will also see 2,050 of Facebook’s Portal video calling devices donated for free to health care facilities.

Surrey has already taken delivery of 50 of these devices, with Manchester, Newcastle and London among the areas in line to receive them next.

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.”

Good communication can have a profound impact in reducing social isolation among residents and patients. NHSX is working with technology companies to find solutions within the health and social care system during this crisis as well as actively exploring connectivity options for care homes without WiFi.

Following this initial pilot phase, care homes involved will be able to keep the devices free of charge to use how they feel is most beneficial.

Technological advice will also be delivered by NHS including device setup, data protection and carrying out factory resets before giving the device to a new patient, protecting personal data of users.

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.”

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