Comfort4Covid connects 12,000 patients

A crowdfunding campaign by led volunteers to acquire tablet computers to help connect families with loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes during the Covid-19 crisis has raised €75,000 in financial donations.

So far, nearly 190 nursing homes and 30 hospitals throughout Ireland have received nearly 600 fully configured tablet computers through the #comfort4covid campaign. With these, the staff are enabling over 12,000 nursing home residents and hospital patients connect with their families and friends.

The campaign was the brainchild of Ciara Close, Suzanne Stewart, Emma Farrell, Kevin Pattison and Niamh Close.

“With so much uncertainty, their families had to say goodbye at a distance. At the same time, we, as a people had adapted our social and business lives to operate online”

“The project was triggered by hearing stories of people going into hospital not knowing if they would come back out,” Ciara Close told ThinkBusiness.

“With so much uncertainty, their families had to say goodbye at a distance. At the same time, we, as a people had adapted our social and business lives to operate online. So, it made sense to use that technology to help people who were isolated from their families in hospitals and nursing homes.”

The best of us

 

Close, an engineer, explained that it was essentially about a group of friends responding instinctively and pooling their skills and expertise.

“I brought the idea to my friends Suzanne Stewart and Emma Farrell. We had met doing an MBA the year before. Suzanne and her partner Kevin had had Covid-19 and had experienced how hard it was to say goodbye to one another. Emma’s granny was in a home and [she] was worried for her. They both thought it was a worthwhile idea that we should pursue.

“Very quickly we raised a lot of money and were donated tablets and we knew we’d need more people to help so we asked my friend Kevin Pattison to get involved. Kevin is an IT and security professional with many years of experience. Finally, we asked my sister Niamh, an assistant principal, to help with the distribution. She had been helping me anyway, so it was great to have her commit fully. We’ve had so many other people, like my dad Jimmy, help us at various stages which has been amazing and very, very necessary at times!”

The team realised that tablets rather than phones allow for bigger screens and easier positioning for patients; allowing people to see faces clearly, to experience a smile, a laugh … comfort from their loved ones.

Making a difference

Speaking of using tablets rather than phones, Norma Sheehan, Director of Nursing, St. Josephs Home, Shankill said: “Some of the residents are unable to see people because phones are so small.  The tablets are going to make a world of difference where they can now recognise their family and loved ones and make real contact.”

“I had a lovely surprise when [my daughter] Anne walked into the room – well her face did! I haven’t seen Anne since the last day in March and the next day was my 92nd birthday”

Vinny Caprani, resident in Talbot Lodge Nursing Home, said of using the tablets: “It really was wonderful to have the opportunity to see [my daughter] Suzanne and just to talk to her as if she was here with me.”

Lily Jackson, patient in Clontarf Hospital, was delighted after using a tablet. She said: “I had a lovely surprise when [my daughter] Anne walked into the room – well her face did! I haven’t seen Anne since the last day in March and the next day was my 92nd birthday.”

Close told ThinkBusiness that another 150 tablet computers will be going out to hospitals and nursing homes around Ireland over the coming week.

The effort has evolved to include a #10for10challenge where people were doing reps of exercises and dedicating them to their grandparents.

“We’ve had people like Dean Rock from Dublin GAA, Rob Hennelly from Mayo GAA and Paddy Kirk from Bohemians take part with videos across our social media.”

Close said an important element to emphasise is the longevity of the donations/campaign.

“The tablets will be in the nursing homes and hospitals as a permanent donation. They will be used by the residents and patients during and beyond lockdown. So, for someone in a nursing home in Clare, with children in Dublin, the tablets provide a long-term means of being connected.

“We’ve partnered with #Covid19tech. They are providing a tech helpline service to over 65s and have now included the hospitals and nursing homes we are donating too. So, once the tablet is donated, the homes now have a complete service to make sure the most can be made of the donation,” Close said.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 29 May, 2020