THE Scottish Government will provide around 1400 care homes with the digital kit necessary to allow residents to stay connected with their friends and family remotely.
The Government say the £1 million fund will enable all care homes in Scotland to access iPads to reduce isolation, fight loneliness, and support the remote clinical management of health conditions.
From today, all care homes will be able to apply for up to two iPads to support their residents.
The funding comes from the Scottish Government’s Connecting Scotland programme, which has committed £500,000 to the initiative, and the Adult Social Care Winter Preparedness plan.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing today, the First Minister 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“However, this funding will give care home residents an additional way of keeping in touch with family and friends and receiving expert clinical advice.”
The new scheme follows a pilot project 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).
Isla Cowe, acting care home manager at Allachburn Care Home in Aboyne said: “Many of our residents have really embraced this new technology and are delighted to be in regular contact with their loved ones.
“It really makes the difference to their general wellbeing and they don’t feel such a sense of loss at being unable to have the physical contact with their families at this time.”
Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care said he hoped the scheme was just the first step towards greater integration of technology in the care sector.
He 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.”