The government will give out 11,000 iPads to care homes in order to help tackle the spread of COVID-19 among residents.
The package is valued at £7.5m and will see the devices distributed to thousands of care homes across England to support residents and staff and reduce the risk of infection from visitors to the homes, according to NHSX.
Each tablet will be ready-to-use out of the box and have a 12-month support package and data-enabled SIM cards for care homes that do not have wifi access.
We're giving up to 11,000 iPads to care homes to enable residents to connect with loved ones, & help to stop #coronavirus outbreaks in their tracks.— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) September 27, 2020
Care homes are eligible for one to two iPads based on the number of devices they currently have to the number of beds. The iPads will be prioritised to homes that don't have enough modern devices or which struggle with internet connectivity.
The devices will provide care home staff easy access to digital health services, including virtual appointments for residents, in order to further reduce the risk of transmission from visitors, the NHS added.
"With coronavirus cases rising the need for infection control measures and social distancing is more important than ever for those living and working in care homes. However I know how challenging the current situation is staff, residents and families, particularly when loved ones can't visit," stated Matt Hancock, minister for health and social care.
"These tablets will be the gateway for so many residents to connect with loved ones, and allow staff to quickly access digital NHS services and information, to help stop Covid-19 outbreaks in their tracks."
The government has been criticised for failing to protect care homes during the height of the pandemic earlier in the year.
Hancock's scheme comes after CRN highlighted efforts by one reseller - Bridgeway - to equip care homes and hospitals with mobile devices through its not-for-profit Phones for Patients programme.
Helen Whately, minister for care, said: "We've set out our plan to make sure social care has what it needs throughout winter to keep coronavirus at bay and provide the care so many rely on. But we know one of the hardest things during the pandemic has been the restrictions on visiting, keeping families away from their loved ones.
"I have heard from many people about the pain of not being able to visit, not being able to hug or even hold the hand of their husband or wife, father or mother. I know iPads won't solve this problem and connecting via a device doesn't work for everyone, but it will help some families stay in touch.
"This is one more step in our strategy to support."
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