Helping people living in accommodation with support stay connected with family and friends by setting up a “Kit for Connection” scheme

Many of us are finding ways to keep connected with family and friends with smart phones, lap-tops, tablets and more. Zoom is no longer the name of an ice-lolly from the 1970’s. Keeping connected in these times can be harder when loved ones are living in accommodation with support – residential care homes, extra care and other support arrangements. Based on Community Circles work to help people living in care homes to keep connected, Circles and Social Care Future have been asking people what they need to stay connected. We have heard things are very varied from place to place but three common issues are: wi-fi-connection, availability of kit, like tablets and smart phones and help for people to use these.

In Scotland, Scottish Care have set up a simple scheme to help solve the “kit” issues at least This involves linking people who want equipment with people who can offer it, or can donate some cash to buy it. Circles and Social Care Future are setting up a small-scale version of this kind of scheme for our networks but others might want to do this too – locally or via organisations. Councils, mutual aid, companies and others might want to do this. If this is something you might be interested in. Here is a simple guide (see also links above to some more detailed useful guides kindly offered by Scottish Care). The right way to do this will vary depending on your circumstances but the key things are:

  1. Find people who need kit. Scottish Care did this through their members who are people running care homes and home care organisations. They made contact through their membership communications to ask if people needed kit, what kind and quantity, and where it was needed. They used a simple form on their web site
  2. They used their links and connections to find groups, businesses and individuals who could offer the kind of kit people are asking for. This was a call for spare equipment in good condition that was enabled to use the kinds of apps and tools that people are using to keep in contact. These could be tablets, laptops, larger smart phones, smart TVs). They offered guidance on suitable equipment, safety issues and ensuring, in the case of pre-used kit that personal data was removed
  3. Link people wanting kit and people offering it – via geographical location – and then advise on appropriate arrangements for collection or delivery, with guidance for safety and security
  4. Set up an on-line giving scheme for people and organisations who prefer to make donations so that some kit could be directly purchased and set to those who need it 

A simple idea. But one that is getting lots of people connected. Is something similar happening or needed where you are? We are aware of some councils doing this – could your council or local NHS? Voluntary organisations or mutual aid – are there care homes or other accommodation with support services near you? Could you set up or help a scheme? This could be big or small – perhaps even just a neighbourhood?

Beyond the basics are all sorts of issues and possibilities such as:

  • Is it possible to arrange help for people to use kit or solve technical problems?
  • Accessing and using the guides for people to use the kit and the apps that are popping up

Linking people to all the on-line content for connection, entertainment, even therapeutic support that is out there and growing (for example our Circles Connected Facebook group

Social Care Future and Community Circles are setting their own scheme now. We are keen to link with and offer any ideas and support to others who want to have a go. Contact us via:

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