Lockdown 101: Staying Connected with Family

In our Autumn competition, we asked you what imaginative ways you have been carrying out your important work during lockdown. Covid has presented an extremely challenging situation to everyone in care homes, so we were keen to find out what activities you have been doing, how you have helped residents keep in touch with their loved ones, and what advice you would give to a carer or activity coordinator facing another lockdown.

We were bowled over by the response we had to this competition. The effort and creativity you have all been putting in to supporting your residents and co-workers during this time is truly incredible!

The variety of entries was so good we’ve compiled them into sets of tips and ideas here. This week: Staying Connected.


Using digital platforms to stay in touch was extremely popular. This is a great way of making sure residents can see their loved ones, not just hear their voice on the phone. Think about creating a rota to make sure everyone gets to connect at least once a week, even if it’s just on the phone. And try to keep an eye on residents who might need that bit more.

Many are using FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and don’t forget, most of these platforms offer group calls, meaning your resident could speak to multiple family members all at the same time.

“We have a Zoom meeting with Alex Chalk, Cheltenham MP, so residents can keep up with the latest news from the government and ask their questions.”
Chris Bourne, Sandfields

We thought phone a friend – using internal phones or mobiles to other residents – was a lovely idea too, and a great way of keeping residents in touch with each other within the care home.

Old-fashioned letter writing was a big hit, offering an activity that residents can do in their rooms as well as a way of staying in touch. And there’s nothing quite like receiving a letter back from a friend or relative!

Postcards are quick and easy to write. You could give your residents blank postcards so that they can create their own designs. You could even make personalised postcards or cards for each resident to send, including their photograph and a personalised message.

Making birthday cards is a lovely activity, and also a great way of keeping residents feeling connected and upbeat within the home.

Pen Pal projects were also very popular. Have a think about who might want to be involved. This could include family and friends that live far away, children from local schools, your regular volunteers or visiting groups, and members of the local community, church groups or clubs.

“During lockdown we introduced a Pen Pal Scheme to our residents. The scheme has allowed our residents to make new friends, not only in our community, but worldwide. Local primary schools/nurseries have written to us which we believe is important for two very different generations to stay connected.”
Tyanna Robinson, Cleeve Lodge Care Home

Sending regular emails to friends and relatives means you can easily include up-to-date photos and videos.

Some more creative and fun ideas for staying connected included drive-by visits to relatives’ homes so that your residents can give them a little wave, making handprints out of clay and sending them to loved ones, and making videos of residents dancing, singing, and generally having fun, and sharing them on social media for family to see.

“Matching pairs of hearts were made for our residents. They chose their hearts and we photographed them while explaining one would go to their loved ones and one was theirs to keep. Relatives loved this symbol of connection when no visiting was allowed.”
Kate Harfield, Moorside Nursing Home

Next week: Covid-Safe Activities