Care home residents are more lonely and isolated than ever.
Being alone in a crowd is the worst type of loneliness; surrounded by others, yet no meaningful connections. It's the daily experience of many care home residents. Research shows they're twice as likely to feel severely lonely as older people living at home. Yet they're so often overlooked and ignored by society.
The pandemic has brought care homes to the forefront of the news, with deaths in care homes accounting for nearly half of all covid-19 related deaths. Yet those who have survived the virus face the daily isolation from their loved ones as care homes are shut to all but essential visitors, with some residents confined to their rooms. This has brought distress not only to residents but to their loved ones as well.
John visited his wife Christine daily before the pandemic. Living with advanced dementia, this time together provided precious moments for them both. John was devastated when told these visits would have to stop. Over the course of the pandemic they have started and stopped several times, but even when they have been allowed it is always socially distanced and wearing protective gear. An emotional roller coaster for John and impossible for Christine to understand. These types of experiences have been replicated up and down the country, with a huge impact on the wellbeing of both care home residents and their loved ones.
Care home staff have tried their best in the face of extremely challenging circumstances to help residents stay connected with video calls etc., but these require staff time to supervise and set up. Hence they may not happen as frequently as wanted.
Care Home Connections
There is an alternative to video calls that, once set up, requires minimal help from staff and enables residents and their loved ones to connect whenever they want, using voice enabled assistive technology. Perhaps the best known of these is "Alexa".
Using this technology, relatives and friends can "drop in" on residents virtually and create treasured moments. Voice calls can be less intrusive than video, and less confusing for residents who may find video technology too much, but understand the concept of a phone call. Plus it uses less bandwidth on the wifi.
We want to enable as many residents and relatives as possible to have these treasured moments together during lockdown. For residents with dementia this could be through singing or reading poetry.
What we will do with the money
We will buy assistive technology devices and give them to relatives of care home residents, with instructions for relatives and care home staff on how to set them up and use them. We will have a team of trained volunteers available to offer technical advice and support.
Why we need your help
We can't do this on our own. Any donations you make will go directly to providing those vital connections for care home residents. We can't bring an end to this pandemic, but with your help we can make it more bearable for some of the oldest and frailest people in our communities.
How else can you help?
It's time for care home residents and their loved ones to have a louder voice.
- Please share this project on social media and encourage others to donate.
- If you know anyone with a loved one in a care home please point them in our direction - we would love to help and support them
Who are we?
Care Home Connections is an initiative of the charity Embracing Age, who also set up the Care Home Friends project. Normally we are training up an army of volunteers to befriend care home residents in person, but sadly that came to a sudden, hopefully temporary, stop with the pandemic. Instead we are finding other ways to support care home residents and staff, including sourcing PPE in the early days of the pandemic, providing android tablets to care homes to aid video calls, and creating thank you gifts for care home staff.
You can read more about the work of Embracing Age on our website: