As restrictions begin to ease across Briton, millions are getting out of the house and reconnecting with loved ones. However, even though 95% of care home residents have now been vaccinated, government guidelines continue to make it difficult for them to leave their facilities, with 14-day isolation periods now in place for anyone who does so.
In response to these constraints, a group of care home residents in London, who were largely isolated during the pandemic, have been taking virtual holidays to destinations around the world. Residents at Roseacres in Barnet have, over the past couple of weeks, enjoyed professional guided tours around the canals of Venice, The Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza, all from the comfort of their living room.
Advinia Healthcare, who manages Roseacres, and live-streaming travel platform Heygo have teamed up to provide these interactive adventures as a way of addressing the isolation and boredom that many residents have felt over the past year and to help them find meaningful ways to connect with friends and family who are unable to visit.
Heygo’s live tours allow groups to tune in via a shared screen in a care home living room or join from the privacy of their own room. Travellers are able to invite others to join remotely and to communicate with other tourists and their guide. The platform, which was launched during the pandemic, offers over 50 tours a day in over 60 countries around the world.
Dennis, an 84-year-old resident at Roseacres, said “I used to travel with my wife all the time, but after she passed away, I felt as though that part of my life was over. Last week, we did an hour-long tour of Venice and watching the men singing on the Gondola suddenly transported me back to a holiday I took with her many years ago. It was really special to be able to share this memory with my son who had joined from his home.”
Dr Sanjeev Kanoria, Founder and Chairman Advinia Healthcare, said “As you get older, connection and communication with the wider world can gradually become more difficult and your world begins to feel much smaller. It is wonderful that with this technology we can offer residents the opportunity to travel the world with their relatives, without any of the risk. We know it’s not as good as the real thing, but it has been such a boost to morale for residents and staff at the home during this difficult time.”
John Tertan, CEO and Co-Founder at Heygo, said “Travel doesn’t just offer a welcome change of scenery, it also has the power to address the mental health issues that have significantly increased amongst older people throughout the pandemic. With over 2.5 million over 75’s digitally excluded, this is great a way for providers to allow their residents to connect and share fulfilling and unique experiences with friends, family and other residents and thus deliver a crucial source of emotional support.”
This is not the first technological trial at Advinia, who are one of the UK’s largest private care providers. Last year, the group carried out a ground-breaking trial in its homes that measured how robots might alleviate loneliness and boost mental health. Advinia plans to roll out the tours to each of their 36 homes over the coming months.