Most countries went into lockdown even before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. In countries under lockdown, no one is allowed to go out of their homes unless it’s absolutely crucial to do so. While most of us are finding new ways to keep ourselves productive or entertained indoors during this time, there are people at care homes who could suffer from loneliness since they can’t have visitors.
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Technology, however, could soon come to the rescue as the UK’s National Health Service is reportedly in talks with Facebook. The talk could result in the installation of thousands of Facebook Portal devices across care homes across the UK. Portal is a smart display that Facebook launched back in 2018. It enables users to make video calls via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, among other functions.
Pilot program to introduce 2000 Portal devices to care homes
The NHS is reportedly planning to launch a pilot program wherein 2,000 Portals could be distributed to care homes in Surrey and in a yet to be decided northern city. Wired reports, citing sources, that the undecided northern city could be Leeds, Manchester, or Newcastle. With this initiative, people in care homes can stay in touch with their loved ones throughout lockdown.
If the alleged pilot program is successful, the report suggests over 100,000 Portal devices could be bought by NHS at a lower price and with prioritised access. These numbers may prove adequate for 11,300 care homes in the UK with about 410,000 residents, numbers courtesy of a 2017 report by the Competition and Markets Authority. NHS and Facebook declined to comment on the report to Wired but Facebook apparently disputed the 100,000 reported figure.
An official announcement could be made later this week as the government is reportedly asking, mostly, privately run care homes to participate in the pilot.
Image credits: Facebook
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