Lecturer launches tech initiative to tackle care home loneliness

A digital media academic has launched an initiative to provide hand-held digital devices to help residents living in care home isolation communicate with their loved ones.

Mark Brill, senior lecturer in Future Media and Creative Innovation at Birmingham City University, has collaborated with technology business Memory Tracks and received donations from tech giants Huawei to provide 80 tablet devices to care homes across the UK.

The devices are pre-loaded with communication and video software including Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom, with technical support being made available to help residents with receiving and making calls to friends and family.

Having previously researched the impact of music and technology usage on those living with dementia, Mark was aware of the challenges that care homes are currently facing.

“With the current Covid-19 crisis, isolation and loneliness are a major challenge for people living in care homes,” he said. “ It impacts on both mental and physical health.

“With social distancing, older adults in care homes are unable to receive visitors, where previously family members visited daily. Video calling has been shown to alleviate isolation and we’re delighted to see an immediate response to our initiative with photos being sent in of residents using the technology so that they can see and speak to their families.”

Mark Brill and the Memory Tracks team are currently raising money via Crowdfunder to provide more devices to care homes and are already in contact with a number of technology providers who plan to provide devices for free or at a reduced cost.

“As well as some finance to purchase devices, we’ll need some funds to package up the tablets and send them out to care homes,” added Mark.

Memory Tracks is an online care platform that links music to daily tasks to support those living with cognitive impairment, such as dementia.

The fundraising campaign can be found at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/connecting-families-in-care.