Hundreds of isolated care home residents can now use tablet computers to keep in touch with loved ones during lockdown.
Elderly and vulnerable people across Stockport have been unable to receive visits from friends and family because of the coronavirus rules.
But council bosses have now stepped in, issuing state-of-the-art tablets to every care home in the borough so residents can see the faces of their nearest and dearest again.
Among those to have taken advantage of the new devices is 101-year-old Nora Holtom, who lives at Ashbourne House Care Home, in Gatley.
Nora, who had not seen her family for more than eight weeks, has now been able to speak to them - including her granddaughter Keely who lives in South Africa.
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Nora said: "It was very special to see her again, especially as she used to fly over every year but now the flights have been stopped, she cannot travel. It was very magical to not just speak to her, but to see her too, it made me so very happy."
Keely added that it was ‘‘really special and emotional’ to see her grandma again.
“I haven't seen her since we celebrated her 100th birthday together, so it meant the world, especially living so far away,” she said.
Another resident to benefit at Ashbourne House is Edith Broome, who celebrated her 93rd birthday with her family via the tablet.
Edith said: “It made my birthday as I have not seen my son, daughter in law or grandchild since the start of my isolation so it was absolutely fabulous."
Her son Malcolm, added: “I’m so thankful for enabling my family to see my mum over a video call, it was a truly wonderful experience in these challenging times.
“It’s obviously difficult to maintain contact whilst being in lockdown, and while most of my family are fortunate enough to live locally to peer through a window to see my mum, my family and I are 200 miles away, so the video call is amazing for us and most of all, it absolutely thrilled my mum too.”
Martin Sorrell, manager at Ashbourne House, said the home had previously been relying on an ‘antiquated’ tablet which was unreliable, slow and prone to breaking up and failing.
"It still amazes me that people from all over the world have been able to reconnect. I think at this time of great uncertainty, families need to reconnect, and this has been a great tonic for residents and relatives alike,” he added.
Meanwhile, over at Cherryfield House, in Edgeley, the arrival of the new device has also put a smile on Gerald Dwyer’s face.
Gerald, who has lived at the home for nearly three years, said: “Sam the manageress has brought this tablet to me so that I can keep in contact with my friends and relatives and not feel isolated during the present Coronavirus situation.
“This is the first time I have used the tablet and it’s great. I have spoken to my brother and sister and I was able to speak to my friend and see him at the same time, it’s amazing what you can do these days.”
Sam Waite, manager at the Petersburg Road home said the tablet was being well-used and giving families plenty of reassurance during lockdown.
She said: “The response has been overwhelming and seeing the expression on their faces and how this has brought happiness into the home is amazing.
“Families have had the pleasure of seeing their loved ones and can see they are safe and happy.”
The council has distributed 67 tablets to date and will also be providing 20 tablets to its in-house learning disability supported living schemes.
Last year the authority won the Digital Transformation award at the MJ Achievement Awards for their improvements in the delivery of quality services for residents as a consequence of innovation and digital transformation