March 26, 2020 / 4:09 PM / 8 days ago

Elderly in UK care home embrace technology to beat coronavirus lockdown

HITCHIN, England (Reuters) - Residents in a British care home are embracing technology to stay in touch with friends and family as the country faces the possibility of weeks of lockdown amid the coronavirus epidemic.

One newcomer to video-calling is 84-year-old Minnie Copping, a resident at Foxholes Care Home in Hertfordshire, north of London.

“It’s absolutely marvellous because she’s my best daughter. I’ve only got one, mind you, but she’s the best daughter I’ve ever had,” Copping said after a 10-minute, laughter-filled chat with her daughter Sandra.

“Oh it’s so, so reassuring for all of us, all the family. Just to be able to see her and know that she’s happy. It just makes our lives so much easier because if you haven’t got the contact, the normal contact, you feel lost,” Sandra Copping told Reuters via video call.

Foxholes said they bought the Facebook Portal system to make video calling easier for their residents, who range in age from under 50 to over 100.

“Some people will get a phone call but they can’t hear their family member at the end of that line so for them to be actually able to see that face and see their lips moving is really, really important,” Suzie Strange, Deputy Manager at Foxholes Care Home said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday ordered people to stay at home, shops to close and an end to all social gatherings to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The restrictions, which will last for at least three weeks, were brought in to prevent the state-run National Health Service (NHS) from being overwhelmed.

Under the curbs on movement, people should leave their homes only for limited reasons such as going to supermarkets for vital supplies or for exercise once a day.

Editing by Mike Collett-White

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