A new drive to help care homes get connected to the Internet during the COVID-19 crisis has been announced by the government.
NHSX and NHS Digital have negotiated offers with telecom companies to provide a range of services, including remote GP consultations, digital ordering of prescriptions and other remote communications with health and care professionals, families and loved ones.
Matthew Gould, Chief Executive Officer for NHSX, said: “Being online is crucial to enable access to services, such as video consultations or secure email, and it can allow residents to stay connected to families and friends, which has never been more important than it is now. We know that many in the care sector face challenges with Internet connectivity. That’s why NHSX is working with telecom companies to help care providers. This scheme will make it easier for care homes to get internet access, or to improve the service they’ve got.”
Data from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with BT Openreach shows that 7,000 care homes in England are without adequate Internet connections. Only a third of the sector is fully digital, with the remaining two-thirds either entirely paper-based or using a mix of paper and digital.
NHSX and NHS Digital have worked with telecommunications companies to publish a series of easily accessible offers to help care homes and care providers get connected to the Internet or to upgrade their existing Internet connectivity during COVID-19. The offers can be found here.
NHS Digital is also providing free NHS Mail accounts to care home providers to help them safely share residents’ data and queries with doctors, nurses and GPs involved in their resident’s direct care. It can be accessed from mobile devices as well as desktops and includes collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams.