COVID-19 – Doing Things Differently – F4 IT

F4 IT support care homes with the technology to keep connected during COVID-19

With the vast majority of care homes having been closed to visitors since lockdown restrictions began, in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it has been feared that a lack of contact with loved ones could have serious consequences on residents’ mental and physical wellbeing.

The Relatives & Residents Association (RRA), a care charity, said at least half of all calls to its helpline were from people concerned about the mental health of elderly relatives in care homes.

With this in mind, local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have been working alongside F4 IT on a project to deploy over 450 Android tablet devices into care homes throughout North and North East Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and the Vale of York.

The project will help support the physical and mental health of residents in care homes, by giving them access to virtual appointments with GPs and other clinical staff, as well as giving them the opportunity to keep in touch with friends, family and loved ones.

The data-enabled tablets come equipped with the same software that’s enabling doctors to hold increasing numbers of virtual consultations with patients, as practices try and limit face-to-face appointments in response to the pandemic.

F4 IT, Care Plus Group’s IT specialists, have been providing technical support to help care homes get set up and make the most of their devices. The team have been busy setting up each device with useful pre-installed links to provide fingertip access for care home staff and residents to improve the users’ experience.

Darren McKay, Director of F4 IT, said: “We’re incredibly proud of this work and feel it will have a positive impact for all care home residents across the Humber, York & Vale regions.

“The tablets will allow GPs to be able to perform remote video consultations with residents, ensuring some of the most vulnerable in our communities can get help at a time when they are most at risk.

“We are also extending the usage of the tablets, so that they can be used for residents to be able to contact loved ones who aren’t able to visit them during this troubling time.”

By equipping care homes with this technology, clinical leaders across the regions hope it will reduce the risk of exposure to the virus for residents, as well as doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Dr Charles Parker, Clinical Chair for NHS North Yorkshire CCG, said: “GP practices are now hosting secure video consultations with patients and it has been a huge success.

“While there will always be occasions when there is no substitute for a face-to-face consultation, this technology is proving to be absolutely suitable for a great many GP appointments and patients have been terrific at adapting to these changes.

“We know that a lot of care home residents are clinically vulnerable, so if we can exploit existing technology to reduce the numbers of visits we need to make to see our patients in care homes, it will help to keep them safe and helps us to manage the risks associated with providing essential care during the COVID-19 pandemic and potentially beyond.”

The Clinical Commissioning Groups have distributed the Android tablets to approximately 114 care homes across Vale of York, 170 in North Yorkshire, 61 in North Lincolnshire and 50 within North East Lincolnshire. Some of the larger care homes have received more than one tablet to be able to cater to more residents needs within the home.

The locations of the care homes which have been gifted an Android tablet and supported through the project are displayed on the following map:

Kim Butters, Registered Manager at Fairways Care Home on Little Coates Road, Grimsby, said: “The use of technology has supported us to build better communication systems with friends, family and loved ones of our residents. It gives them the reassurances their loved one is being well looked after by managing to keep in contact through virtual meetings, whilst we’re still closed to visitors.

“We’ve received lots of positive feedback and thanks from friends and family members for allowing them to opportunity to see and speak to their loved ones during this difficult time.”

The project and service by F4 IT has come in for an abundance of praise by those working across the health care community within the region, as displayed by the following comments on Twitter:

 

Award-winning IT support services, F4 IT, not only provide support across Care Plus Group’s 800-employee organisation, but also to other healthcare and private companies across North and North East Lincolnshire, Vale of York and North Yorkshire.

To find out more about F4 IT and how they could support your organisation, please visit their dedicated website on https://f4it.co.uk.

 

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