"When lockdown came during the COVID-19 pandemic, the older people’s therapy team were disrupted like all other NAViGO services.

Face-to-face interventions and support groups are a key part of the service.

But social distancing regulations meant the team were unable to offer face-to-face groups, such as Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (designed to stimulate the brain to help with memory impairments) and reminiscence groups (designed to talk about past events to aid service users with moderate to severe dementia).

These sessions were loved by service users, who saw them as a chance to interact socially as well as benefitting their health and social care needs, so we had to find a solution.

We invested in tablets and lent these to service users, so they could attend their interventions online via Zoom.

This has been a challenge, as many of our target audiences have limited knowledge on the use of technology.

However, we call service users to guide them on how to access Zoom meetings and this scheme continues to be very successful with service users who would not usually have their own technology.

If service users could not join groups via Zoom, they may have spent long periods of time in isolation as a result of the pandemic.

Currently, we run the Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) intervention on Zoom. This has been very successful, with many service users engaging well throughout the prescribed 14 sessions. The Zoom option has been well received, with participants providing positive feedback and saying that the virtual sessions are fun and engaging.

We are currently looking into starting our second virtual CST group for the next cohort of service users and we will shortly be commencing a virtual reminiscence group.

Each session is tailored to the service user’s clinical needs and are a widely accepted alternative provision to face-to-face sessions.

As well as group sessions, we have – where possible – delivered video consultations to patients in their home, and have also used Zoom during a range of visits to link in with members of our multi-disciplinary team. This has been very effective and has contributed to us providing services that we would be happy for our family to use."

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