Chigwell care home among first to partner with Google to keep residents connected with loved ones

Lambwood Heights resident Winne Mulgrew video calls with daughter Margaret

Lambwood Heights resident Winne Mulgrew video calls with daughter Margaret - Credit: Oakland Care

Residents at a Chigwell care home are among the first in the country to receive free smart speakers which enable them to make calls and connect with friends and family throughout lockdown.

Google donated a number of Nest smart speakers to Lambwood Heights, which was one of the first care homes to benefit from the donation.

Each Nest device has been set up for the residents, including their contacts and calling preferences, with the aim of helping them to feel more connected with their loved ones.

Resident Sylvia Culling learns how to use her Google Nest

Resident Sylvia Culling learns how to use her Google Nest - Credit: Oakland Care

The purpose-built hubs have been simplified for the home’s less tech-savvy residents, and each of them has full control over their privacy settings.

Resident Winnie Mulgrew has one of the 20 devices in her bedroom.

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The 92-year-old has already embraced the new technology as a way of keeping in contact with her daughters, Margaret Godfrey and Carole Lambert.

Margaret said: "Mum loves that she can see our faces and chat to us whenever she wants and will often call two or three times a week.

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"Obviously, we would love to give Mum a big hug, but in these difficult times this definitely helps us to feel connected with each other."

In addition to video calling her daughters, former dancer Winnie, who was one of the Windmill girls at the Windmill Theatre, enjoys using her smart speaker to listen to music from the 1940s and watch tap dancing videos.

Margaret added: "She still has her tap dancing shoes and likes to occasionally try them on and give it a go!"

Joanne Balmer, chief executive for Oakland Care, which runs Lambwood Heights, said while the technology is normally associated with younger people, they were embracing the technology to help keep their residents connected and entertained during the pandemic and the lockdowns.

She said: “For residents to be able to see the familiar faces of their loved ones is very reassuring in these difficult and uncertain times. It makes them feel more comfortable and less anxious.

“It’s a great way of promoting independence and providing our residents with the privacy to make their calls. Residents can choose when to catch-up with a friend or loved one instead of relying on a member of staff."

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