New Technologies help Befriendships Blossom

Mon 25 May 2020

As befriending services seek to continue to keep people connected during COVID-19, many have turned to video calling technologies. Using technology, however, can be challenging for those who are unfamiliar with it. Julie from VASL Community Champions shares how one befriendee persevered...

"After 6 weeks with only phone calls my client was able to download WhatsApp and we were able to catch up face to virtual face this week. What a difference a face makes! We spent the first few moments giggling about our ‘lockdown hair’, then praising the wonders of modern technology.

My elderly client was completely amazed by the ‘real time and place’ quality of the video call. We wandered (virtually) together around the garden, vegetable growing was an interesting discussion whilst standing in the greenhouse. My client has truly had a home visit...in reverse!

This is not to say there were no concerns or challenges. For my 88 year old client, it was demanding to be talked through how to access and then download the app, over the phone. This was frustrating for us both, but my client is patient and determined and we got there eventually. Soon we were giggling over our unruly hair. What a triumph! My client was concerned it would cost (it doesn’t) and that it could affect how her phone works (it won’t).

We would recommend it to anyone if they have access to Wi-Fi, a mobile or tablet and patience. It pays off, and will make the isolation so much more bearable for vulnerable and lonely clients missing that vital human contact. Wonderful WhatsApp!"

For those struggling to use video technologies or those helping to guide someone to make a video call, check out this resource from the BBC.