Care homes should prioritise wifi ‘to make sure grandchildren come to visit‘

Care homes need to prioritise wifi to make sure grandchildren come to visit, Britain‘s care minister Caroline Dinenage has said.

Speaking at an event in London the UK minister said not enough homes allowed their residents to access wi-fi.

She said internet access could help older people stay in touch with their families and encourage younger members to come and visit more often.

“Wi-fi actually can encourage your grandchildren to come and visit. Because they will sit there, and you can do something together,” she said.

Dementia patients can be helped by “incredible online tools to help people and trigger memories and for therapeutic things,” she added.

Online systems are available which allow patients and their families to upload photo albums, music playlists and videos that they can then watch together.

She added that a lack of internet access could cause problems with access to medical care and information as well as making it more difficult to organise staff rotas.

“Wi-fi can be the difference between allowing a medical professional, a GP to see a patient urgently and making that decision as to whether they need to be rushed into A&E and actually whether they‘re OK, it‘s a UTI and they need a course of antibiotics.

“It can help manage staff rotas so businesses become more efficient, there‘s a continuity of care and also the business is sustainable,” she told an audience at the event organised by think tank the Resolution Foundation.

Research published by Citizens Advice has found that one in five care homes do not offer wi-fi to residents and one in four care home staff did not know whether or not it was available.

“Where wi-fi is not available, residents would have no access to Skype, Facebook, email or other services that might be used to keep in touch with friends and family unless they arrange mobile internet for themselves at extra cost,” the charity warned.