Citation Zamir S, Hennessy C, Taylor A & Jones RB (2018) Video-calls to reduce loneliness and social isolation within care environments for older people: an implementation study using collaborative action research. BMC Geriatrics, 18 (1), Art. No.: 62. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-018-0746-y
Older people in care may be lonely with insufficient contact if families are unable to visit. Face-to-face contact through video-calls may help reduce loneliness, but little is known about the processes of engaging people in care environments in using video-calls. We aimed to identify the barriers to and facilitators of implementing video-calls for older people in care environments.
A collaborative action research (CAR) approach was taken to implement a video-call intervention in care environments. We undertook five steps of recruitment, planning, implementation, reflection and re-evaluation, in seven care homes and one hospital in the UK. The video-call intervention ‘Skype on Wheels’ (SoW) comprised a wheeled device that could hold an iPad and handset, and used Skype to provide a free video-call service. Care staff were collaborators who implemented the intervention within the care-setting by agreeing the intervention, recruiting older people and their family, and setting up video-calls. Field notes and reflective diaries on observations and conversations with staff, older people and family were maintained over 15 months, and analysed using thematic analysis.
Four care homes implemented the intervention. Eight older people with their respective social contacts made use of video-calls. Older people were able to use SoW with assistance from staff, and enjoyed the use of video-calls to stay better connected with family. However five barriers towards implementation included staff turnover, risk averseness, the SoW design, lack of family commitment and staff attitudes regarding technology.
The SoW intervention, or something similar, could aid older people to stay better connected with their families in care environments, but if implemented as part of a rigorous evaluation, then co-production of the intervention at each recruitment site may be needed to overcome barriers and maximise engagement.