A CROSS HILLS nursing home has invested in the latest technology and introduced a new ‘virtual visiting’ system that is immediately proving popular with residents and their families.

None but essential visitors are allowed at the Beanlands Nursing Home, along with all other care homes, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The home already has high speed WiFi, and has now introduced tablets so more residents can keep in touch with relatives and friends using Facetime, WhatsApp and other apps, while visits are restricted.

Konrad Czajka, managing director of Czajka Care Group, which runs the home, said: “To minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19, and to ensure that we follow the most recent Government guidelines, we have of course restricted all non-essential visitors to our homes.

“In order to reduce the impact on our residents and their families, technology is allowing us to overcome this temporary change, with the use of Facetime, Skype calls and social media all playing their part in keeping everyone connected."

He added: “We have found that our residents are very open to the whole experience and with the help of our wonderful team of carers and activity co-ordinators we are able to schedule virtual visits for our residents with their families and friends. “The virtual visits have been a big hit with our residents, who across all five of our homes are aged between 18 and over 100 years old, and we are also continuing to use Alexa and other devices to access news, music and talking books for them too.”

Tablets have also been made available at the company’s retirement communities, including at Currergate Mews in Steeton.

“We are thrilled with how the virtual visiting has quickly taken off and also have been very touched by the number of lovely letters and drawings we have received from children in our local community. Each day creative pictures and messages arrive in the post from children, who are currently not able to go to school, and receiving this correspondence is a daily delight for so many of our residents,” said Mr Czajka.

The Government says family and friends should not visit care home, except the next of kin in exceptional circumstances, such as the end of life, and should follow social distancing guidance.

It says alternatives to in person visiting should be explored, such as the use of telephones or video, and the use of plastic or glass barriers between residents and visitors. Visitors should wash their hands for 20 seconds when entering and leaving the home, and catch sneezes and coughs in tissues, and minimise contact with other residents and staff - less than 15 minutes.