Embracing technology that brings us together

Staying connected with the people that are important to use was particularly challenging during lockdown. Face-to-face meet ups and having coffee together were not possible, which forced us to think about what we could do.

Illustration of a group call.

Many of us also started to use more of WhatsApp and FaceTime to video call with friends and family. Who doesn't love the funny stories about being able to see right up someone's nostrils or talking to their forehead as they get to grips with things?

In this blog, we're sharing the ways unpaid carers in our community used technology to stay in touch with their loved ones from afar.

Technology can be daunting to use and us and the people we know around us may resist.

So how can we get over some of the possible barriers?

"I don't have a device."

Many applications (known as apps) work across all sorts of devices, smart phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and Desktops (just add webcam, microphone and speakers). A surprising number of people have something spare hanging around - ask around.

"No WiFi or broadband."

For people that won't use this regularly, a low cost plan from a mobile phone company can give you enough data. Also check with neighbours, they might let you share their WiFi for occasional use!

"I don't think it's for me, I'm not technically minded I prefer to speak on the phone."

Maybe not, but if we try it, we'll have a much better idea if we'll like it. My mother-in-law was the same and now loves chatting to us all on WhatsApp video calls. She already had WhatsApp for messages so we just made a video call to her one day and she answered it!

"I'm not sure which app to use - won't it cost money?"

There are lots of free apps - see below. They can be downloaded from 'App store' for iPhone users or 'Play Store' for android users. Perhaps someone else can do this bit for you and get set up.

Apps for free video calling

  • WhatsApp - up to 4 people

  • Google Hangouts - up to 9 people

  • Google Duo - up to 32 people, as recommended by a carer in our community.

  • Facebook messenger - up to 50 people

  • Zoom - up to 100 people (we rate this very highly!)

  • Houseparty - up to 8 people (make sure you lock your houseparty room!)

  • Skype - If it works for you, do use it but not the easiest starting point.

If you haven't yet, give these a go. Give and receive some virtual hugs. Our carers guide to the internet can also help us get started! Once we've got the hang of chatting, we could have meals together, family quiz nights, virtual pub nights and more.

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