Car­ers to use Skype calls to check on pen­sion­ers in ‘pi­o­neer­ing’ trial

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Daily Tele­graph Re­porter

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.”

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