Hundreds of elderly residents across Shropshire have been getting to grips with new technology as they seek to stay in touch with family amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

Farcroft manager Karen McPherson demonstrates to a resident how to use Skype to call her family.

Coverage Care Services, a not-for-profit organisation which operates 14 care homes in the county, purchased 30 new laptops when it introduced measures two weeks ago to actively restrict non essential visitors to avoid unnecessary spread of COVID- 19.

The computers have now been distributed to homes and staff have been working with residents to make sure they can operate the computers and use video communication tools such as Skype to keep in touch with family members.

Chief Executive David Coull said: “This is such a difficult time for everybody and with access to homes restricted it’s absolutely vital that residents can still communicate with their family.

“Staff have been working so hard to help residents get to grips with new technologies and we have been surprised by how quickly everyone has picked it up.

“For some of our more elderly residents they think it’s absolute wonderful that they can have a conversation with someone in the same way they would if they were sat right next to them in the home.

“We understand the lack of physical contact for families is hard. All any of us want to do at the moment is give our loved ones a hug and reassure each other. However, being able to maintain visual interaction is absolutely critical and is proving invaluable at this difficult and unprecedented time.”

Coverage Care bosses, which cares for 800 vulnerable residents, were among the first to take action against the ongoing COVID-19 threat when it introduced measures to actively discourage all non-essential visitors.

Other care homes across the country were forced to take similar steps when the Government released its official guidance more than a week later.

Family and friends of residents as well as non-urgent visitors are among those who have been strongly advised not to visit Coverage Care’s homes.

Services remain open for admissions and visits from health and social care professionals as well as urgent suppliers.

Infection control measures and enhanced staff training are all now in place, while steps to manage staffing, including any new employees, in the safest possible way are being prepared in the event of a more widespread outbreak.