Loneliness in lockdown reduced by kind donation from Kirklees Council to local care homes


The Facebook Portal Mini is a smart video calling device with an 8 inch HD display.

Kirklees Council, working in collaboration with NHS partners, 17 of these devices have been sent to learning disability care homes across the borough in a bid to keep residents from feeling lonely whilst social distancing restrictions are in place. Families and friends can be connected via the portals enabling them to be more involved in supporting their loved ones.

One recipient is Cleveland Road, a Bridgewood Trust residential home in Huddersfield for people with learning disabilities. They currently have nine residents varying between 25 – 70 years old and the Covid19 lockdown has brought different challenges to everyone there.

Mark, 53, has lived at Cleveland Road since 2002. He has Downs Syndrome. Mark is a very sociable gentleman who has many friends that he used to see regularly. Not being able to see these friends during lockdown has been very hard for him and the Facebook portal has lifted his spirits as he has been able to socialise virtually and see his friends. Mark has used the device to take photos of himself and others during the lockdown and has enjoyed using the portal’s story time app.

Tracey Lockwood, Home Manager at Cleveland Road said:

“We were gifted Facebook Portals from Kirklees Council that were distributed to our homes across Kirklees including Cleveland Road. The portals have had such a good impact on our residents. The Facebook Portal has been used to video chat with others; take photos; use the story time app; talk to Alexa and using the internet to listen to songs on YouTube.  We are very grateful for the lovely gift.”

The portal has also had a great impact on residents at York House in Dewsbury.

Obviously once the lockdown began the staff at Burling Care home, York House, have really stepped up to keep everyone upbeat and happy.

Isolation and loneliness are something the staff are acutely aware of and they make sure that all residents are supported, either in one-to-one sessions or in groups, where residents are encouraged to keep talking and engage with fellow residents and the staff.

York House has a good reputation in the Dewsbury area, for keeping the residents dancing and because of that, they have residents who have lived at the Earlsheaton home for many years.

Pat, who has lived at York House for some time, spoke to her family. She was thrilled. The Portal had a positive effect and made her smile

Rachel Beech, Home Manager at York House said; “The lockdown has been difficult for residents because we are usually a very busy home, with family members coming and going all day.

“We already run daily activities and work hard to keep all our residents amused and occupied.

“When we got the Facebook Portal for Kirklees, we immediately set up the York House page to enable residents loved ones to get in touch, we then emailed them or sent a letter with all the details; all of which was quick and very easy to do.

“We have a dementia suite and it is those residents that have spoken to family callers, where we have seen some positive reactions, which have been heart-warming to witness and we are determined to encourage these moments.

“The kind donation by Kirklees has really been good for many of the residents. It has been lovely to watch their faces light up when they see a loved one.”

Brenda, another resident who has been at York House for approximately two years, said; “It was beautiful to see my granddaughter. I can’t wait to see her again.”

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council said:

“I am absolutely amazed to hear of the wonderful reactions to the Facebook Portals that have been sent to our care homes in Kirklees.

The restrictions brought about by the Covid19 lockdown have demonstrated the key role that digital technologies now play in all our lives. The council and its health partners are exploring how devices that facilitate communication across an increasingly connected world can be utilised more effectively to bring real health and social care benefits to the residents of Kirklees.

Loneliness in lockdown is terrible and adds more anxiety to those who suffer from this.  I was very pleased to hear the portals have kept people in touch with loved ones.  We have delivered the portals directly to each care home to make sure our most vulnerable residents do not feel lonely during this time.  I look forward to hearing how care homes will use the portals in other ways to support residents in the future. There are huge opportunities we can take full advantage of and this is what we will do.”






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