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Kent County Council to roll out videophones to vulnerable people


Mark Say Managing Editor

Kent County Council has unveiled a programme to provide about 2,000 elderly or vulnerable residents with a videophone system to support their care.

Old man using videophone

It has agreed on a £1.5 million contract with assistive care technology provider Alcove to roll out digital support packages across the county, prompted by the need to support people through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The council will provide standard Samsung 10 inch tablet computers with Alcove’s software to lock it down and make it easy to use. They will not require internet connections, having a built-in roaming SIM card.

The devices will enable video calling to the individual’s support network, including council staff, family and friends.

A spokesperson for the council told UKAuthority: “We have 2,000 devices and we are hoping to support as many people as possible with those devices. If the device is no longer required, it can be cleaned down, cleared of all information and then re-issued to another person as and when required.

“We have targeted all of our vulnerable individuals known to adult social care as well as utilising the experience of our practitioners and contracted care providers to support in identifying individuals they know that have been shielding, isolating and/or their general wellbeing has been impacted due to the pandemic.”

Greater independence

Councillor Clair Bell, Kent’s cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: “This assistive technology will give some of our most vulnerable residents greater independence and help care staff to support them at this very challenging time.

“The videophone is delivered direct to the person’s home, ready to go, straight out of the box. It enables carers to monitor care needs and check on the safety and wellbeing of their clients, who themselves are able to utilise the equipment for a variety of online activities such as ordering shopping and prescriptions, as well as connecting with their family and friends by video call.”

The spokesperson added that the council has been liaising with its hospital discharge pathways, unpaid carers and voluntary sector organisations to enable assessments of vulnerable people while social distancing has been in place.

Technology review

Bell added that before the pandemic began the council was undertaking a review of its strategy for the use of digital assistive technology in anticipation of contracts ending next year.

Alcove’s chief executive officer Helen Bowey said its Integrated Caretech Digital Ecosystem works with Amazon Alexa and that uses data to monitor people’s behaviour.

The company will be working on the project with health and care transformation consultancy Rethink Partners.

Image from Kent County Council

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