Carers to use Skype calls to check on pensioners in ‘pioneering’ trial
PENSIONERS will be visited via Skype instead of in person in a new trial.
They will be given tablet devices to communicate with carers, who will talk to them over video link rather than visiting their homes.
The move is a trial by Essex county council and Essex Cares Limited (ECL), both say it will make interaction “more convenient and less intrusive”.
The patients selected to take part in the trial will all have been referred by the NHS for short-term care or “re-ablement” – a programme to help people learn or relearn skills needed for independent living. They will be given training on how to receive video calls. However, the idea has been criticised by healthcare charities.
Cliff Rich, CEO of Contact the Elderly, said: “[Our] work with lonely and isolated older people is founded on the basis of the clear value of face-toface contact. We gladly recognise the amazing strides modern technology has made in helping all of us, and especially older people, with staying in touch with family and friends who may live too far away to visit in person.
“However, we still believe that nothing can replace the essential human need for face-to-face interaction.”
ECL says the system will make the care system more efficient. Keir Lynch, the company’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be pioneering a new method of providing care and wellbeing across the county.
“We are also very proud that we can offer innovative methods of communication within the care sector, which will hopefully enable more people to live as independently as possible.”