Loneliness in lockdown – connecting families using Facebook portals

We have distributed Facebook Portal devices to care homes that enable residents to stay in touch with their loved ones and reduce their social isolation during the coronavirus lockdown.

Connecting families and friends 

The Facebook Portal Mini is a smart video calling device with an 8 inch HD display.  Working in collaboration with NHS partners, 17 of these devices have been sent to learning disability care homes across the borough in a bid to keep residents from feeling lonely whilst social distancing restrictions are in place.  Families and friends can be connected via the portals enabling them to be more involved in supporting their loved ones.

One recipient is Cleveland Road, a Bridgewood Trust residential home in Huddersfield for people with learning disabilities. They currently have nine residents varying between 25 – 70 years old and the Covid19 lockdown has brought different challenges to everyone there.

Mark 53, has lived at Cleveland Road since 2002. He has Downs Syndrome.  Mark is a very sociable gentleman who has many friends that he used to see regularly.  Not being able to see these friends during lockdown has been very hard for him and the Facebook portal has lifted his spirits as he has been able to socialise virtually and see his friends.  Mark has used the device to take photos of himself and others during the lockdown and has enjoyed using the portal’s story time app.

Mark with friends

Another resident, Dawn, has a learning disability and a physical disability which means she is confined to a wheelchair.  Family is very important to Dawn, using the portal she has enjoyed speaking to her brother and his family, and has enjoyed viewing photos of family members.  She has also been able to see the family dog which is very important to her.

Dawn photo 2

A further 45 devices have been sent to elderly persons care homes including one device which was sent to York House in Dewsbury.

The lockdown has been difficult for residents in York House because they are usually a very busy home, with family members visiting all day.  Staff were acutely aware of isolation and loneliness and they made sure that all residents were well supported.

The portal has had a significant positive impact on residents at the home including Pat, who has lived there for some time.  She used the device to speak to her family who live in France.  She was thrilled with the portal having a positive effect on her wellbeing.  Brenda, another resident who has been at York House for two years, said it was beautiful to see her granddaughter and that she couldn’t wait to see her again.

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council said:

“I am absolutely amazed to hear of the wonderful reactions to the Facebook Portals that have been sent to our care homes in Kirklees.

The restrictions brought about by the Covid19 lockdown have demonstrated the key role that digital technologies now play in all our lives. The council and its health partners are exploring how devices that facilitate communication across an increasingly connected world can be utilised more effectively to bring real health and social care benefits to the residents of Kirklees.

Loneliness in lockdown is terrible and adds more anxiety to those who suffer from this.  I was very pleased to hear the portals have kept people in touch with loved ones.  We have delivered the portals directly to each care home to make sure our most vulnerable residents do not feel lonely during this time.  I look forward to hearing how care homes will use the portals in other ways to support residents in the future. There are huge opportunities we can take full advantage of and this is what we will do.”

Tracey Lockwood, Home Manager at Cleveland Road said:

“We were gifted Facebook Portals from Kirklees Council that were distributed to our homes across Kirklees including Cleveland Road. The portals have had such a good impact on our residents. The Facebook Portal has been used to video chat with others; take photos; use the story time app; talk to Alexa and using the internet to listen to songs on YouTube.  We are very grateful for the lovely gift.”

Rachel Beech, Home Manager at York House said:

“When we got the Facebook Portal we immediately set up the York House page to enable residents’ loved ones to get in touch.  We have a dementia suite and it is those residents that have spoken to family callers.  The positive reactions have been heart-warming to witness and we are determined to encourage these moments.

The kind donation by Kirklees Council has been really good for many of the residents. It has been lovely to watch their faces light up when they see a loved one.”

Combating loneliness 

The devices received are our share of a national initiative from Facebook in which 2,000 devices are being deployed into care homes across the country to tackle loneliness.

We are playing a national role in combatting loneliness.  The Chief Librarian of Kirklees Libraries, Carol Stump, has been invited to join the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Tackling Loneliness Network as part of her upcoming role as President of Libraries Connected.

Our vision is to create a place where people and communities are more connected and support each other to develop meaningful relationships and reduce loneliness.

3 comments

  • barbararushforth@btinternet.com

    I don’t have anyone in a care home and I am not in one myself but I think this is a wonderful idea. Handicapped people can soon lose track of time if their usual routine is disrupted and to see family, friends and pets is important to them. To combat loneliness is also important.

  • I have a son who lives at Beechwood Care Home 8 Bryan Road Edgerton Huddersfield. He is fine mentally but has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and is paralysed from neck down. This seems a marvellous service for people in care homes and I’m sure all the residents would benefit from this, Gemma Mcorkindale is the activities manager and I’m sure she would be pleased to get more information about it. Telephone 01484 429626.
    Hilary Hanson mother of TIm Owen

    • Hi Hilary, we are glad that you think so! I will pass her details on to our adult and social care team. All the best ^CP

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