Is your care home eligible for free iPads?

The coronavirus crisis has had severe repercussions on every industry, but the care sector has been especially hard hit. With elderly residents particularly vulnerable to the virus, care homes have been forced to discontinue family visits, leaving many residents feeling cut off from their loved ones. To combat these social repercussions of the virus, the NHS is offering free iPads to care homes. What could this mean for your care home?

What is the NHS offering?

The coronavirus pandemic has been hard for the care industry; trying to safeguard residents, carers and support staff, while maintaining your commitment to the happiness of residents and assuaging the concerns of their relatives, has required resilience, creativity and Herculean stamina.

One of the biggest problems that care-home owners and providers have told us they are struggling with is disheartened residents, who, in many instances, have not been able to see their loved ones for several months. The repercussions of this lack of social interaction can be devastating for the elderly, and to combat this the NHS has launched a new scheme to offer free iPads to care homes.

Additionally, the NHS is going to be helping homes with poor WiFi by trying to establish a better connection, to complement their new iPads. The tablets are being offered to those most in need, so you’ll need to spell out the reasons why your home needs this technology clearly in your application.  You’ll also need to submit your application quickly, as the deadline is 23rd October 2020.

How might your care home benefit from iPads?

As care home consultants, we see the benefits of technology in care homes on a daily basis. In particular, iPads can revolutionise your administrative tasks and promote the happiness of your residents.

The NHS has listed several benefits of iPads in care homes, including:

  • Video medical appointments: Some medical appointments can be performed virtually, which could be beneficial for your residents in reducing unnecessary contact with other people who could be carrying the virus.
  • Infection control: Reducing the risk of contact with Covid-19 will also help strengthen your infection-control policies.
  • Talking to loved ones: Video calls can help boost residents’ well being by enabling them to talk to their loved ones.
  • Tools: There are many applications that can be employed by your staff on iPads, which can help move your administration online and modernise your procedures.

Is your care home eligible for free iPads?

There are a limited number of iPads available and consequently the government has had to come up with an eligitability criteria for the devices, including:

  • Prioritisation: Preference will be given to certain homes, including care homes which are funded entirely or partly through their local authority and homes that currently have an iPad-to-resident ratio of less than 1:40.
  • Care homes without tablets: If your care home doesn’t currently have any tablet devices then you should be top of the list for the government’s free devices. How many your home receives will then depend on how many residents you have.
  • IPads with a SIM card: There are some iPads available that have the additional technology needed for their own SIM card, allowing them to access network coverage instead of WiFi. Your care home will be eligible for this is it has poor WiFi connection.

Breakdown of the scheme

While there are clear adantages to the scheme – such as connecting the elderly in care homes with their loved ones during these unprecedented times – there has been some criticism of it. Some have pointed to the fact that it is too little too late, as the social care sector was left to fend for itself at the start of the coronavirus crisis. Others have added that it is just a drop in the ocean and that the adult care sector needs government investment on a much larger scale than 11,000 free iPads.

Clearly the care sector needs greater investment and the heroes within it are being stretched, however this is a scheme that has the potential to help care homes, residents and staff, and – while we proactively champion our sector to secure the strategic, systemic support it needs – we welcome this as an initial quick win.

Our CEO, Tony Thiru, commented: “I welcome any government investment in the care sector; with proper financing, the care sector could be truly revolutionised. Care homes should really look to take advantage of this scheme. At Fulcrum we work with care homes to implement technology and regularly see the lives of staff and residents transformed by such devices. IPads could enable your residents to reconnect with their loved ones and help to prevent the spread of COVID within your home as it supports virtual connections to help keep the virus out.”

The government’s commitment to offer free iPads to care homes is a welcome investment in the sector and also shows their endorsement of technology in revolutionising the care sector, something that we have always been passionate about. If you want help introducing technology to your care home, or require any other flexible care consultancy, please get in touch: 020 3411 4014 or