The mPower project was always about supporting people and that became even more important when the pandemic struck. The Ayrshire and Arran and Western Isles teams, along with all the other partner teams truly adapted during difficult circumstances to continue to help those who needed it most and to make a positive difference to the lives of the beneficiaries.
The mPower team based in NHS Ayrshire and Arran were increasingly using technology to continue to help the elderly during the various lockdowns. The team saw an increase in referrals at that time and offered support over the telephone instead of the usual face to face visits. The team helped people use technology to organise online food deliveries as well as offering support to stay connected with family over email and or video calls. Physical health was also an important focus area and the project encouraged people to use technology to keep active, especially important when people were restricted in terms of going out. The team have guided people to use their tablet and computers to access online videos for different types of simple exercises that could be done safely in the home and even in a chair for those with limited mobility. For those who didn’t have access to the technology required, the Community Navigators supported the beneficiary’s wellbeing by a simple weekly telephone ‘check in call’.
Since the first lockdown, the mPower team in NHS Western Isles successfully rolled out NHS Near Me (also known as NHS Attend Anywhere), a safe and secure video calling platform to all 10 of the Islands Care Homes. Working closely with the local Council, the team were able to arrange the delivery of IPad devices and provide support to Care Home Managers to get the platform set up. This means that GP’s can still have consultations with residents and residents could still connect with their families, which is crucial for wellbeing.
Sue Long, mPower Implementation Lead said “We were told that after being shown how to use the iPad, one resident was so excited about seeing his family over a video call that he barely slept the night before”.
She continued “Now that local events and social groups are no longer happening, the team have turned to digital alternatives. The ‘daily ceilidh’ for residents in Bernera and Uig is a great example of this. It’s an online coffee morning that takes place every day where people can come together and chat to others”.
The mPower team based within HSE (CH01 and CH08) played an instrumental role in advising and training for the national roll out of Attend Anywhere across Ireland following a successful trial that the project funded and led in the CHO1 and CHO8 areas and are working alongside the HSE National Telehealth team.
Underlining the importance of the project at that time, Gina McIntyre CEO of the SEUPB said: “Through the dedication and understanding displayed by its core team, this project is helping many of our most vulnerable and elderly citizens through the current crisis. By adapting their delivery, they are ensuring that these groups stay connected with the doctors, and other healthcare professionals, to ensure that they stay physically well.
“Through the use of technology, these groups can retain that vital human contact with friends and family to help combat loneliness; something that it is so very important at this time. I am very proud of their efforts, along with the real and tangible impact they are making upon the lives of so many,” she continued.