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Organisations join forces to provide virtual support for vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis

June 2020

Essex County Council has galvanised organisations in North East Essex to join their new virtual care and wellbeing service – with the aim to help the most vulnerable people stay safe and connected as we navigate our way through the coronavirus crisis.

The Council is rolling-out 2,000 Alcove Video Carephones, an integrated, easy-to-use device, which enables users – especially those with limited or no tech skills – to make and receive video calls to pre-identified services via a locked down device and a web portal.

Local health and care organisations including Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE), Essex Cares Limited (ECL), East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, Essex University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) and Tendring District Council are now working together to identify appropriate people to receive services via the Video Carephone.

The roll-out builds on the collaborative work already in progress as part of the Live Well programme under the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance – a group of local organisations who are committed to working together to improve the health and wellbeing of local residents.

Ed Garratt, Chief Executive, Ipswich and East Suffolk, North East Essex and West Suffolk CCGs said: “This initiative is a fantastic example of how we can quickly integrate our response across health and care and ensure that our residents get the best care and support they can at this time.

“Our organisations have been working in close partnership on this agenda for some time and we are developing our plans together to ensure the most vulnerable are looked after.”

The device will reduce loneliness and isolation and help keep people safe by providing the ability for care givers to deliver virtual care calls, welfare checks, prompts, link to voluntary organisations and support people to access basic needs such as food and medications. Health calls will provide continuity of care, such as remote exercises, guidance and advice, medication reviews and referrals.

In addition, people who are struggling with mental health issues can use the Video Carephone to contact their support networks when they need to, allowing them to check-in on them easily too.

To use the Video Carephone, the user simply needs to touch the appropriate tile on their screen to make a video call.  Health and care providers and voluntary services are then able to connect with users through a portal or app to make reciprocal calls.

Cllr Lynda McWilliams, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for Partnerships from Tendring District Council said: “Over the last few weeks we have seen vulnerable people with real need in our communities and we have been helping them access the support services they need through Tendring Shield Support.

“As we progress to the next phase of the coronavirus lockdown, the Video Carephones will help support people who continue to isolate, by referring them to get the support they need but also to be able to see their friends and family – some who have not had contact for weeks.”

Cllr Spence from Essex County Council says:  ““ECC is committed to optimising the care we give to our residents. We can do that by helping them live independently, augmenting traditional domiciliary care with new technology which also enables their families to keep in touch. We are delighted that organisations across north-east Essex and the county as a whole are supporting us on this particular initiative.”

Essex County Council is leading the roll-out together with RETHINK Partners and Alcove. Users are supported to set-up the devices remotely and their friends and family members, and regular services, can also be added remotely during set-up. The devices have been designed to be used by people with little or no digital skills. 

For more information go to: https://www.essex.gov.uk/news/care-technology-helping-the-vulnerable-during-covid-19