Fernhill House is helping trial a simple yet ground breaking technology aimed at helping older people combat loneliness.   

The home has teamed up Hello Daisy – an easy to use low cost alternative to video messaging programmes such as Skype, which will connect the user to friends, family, community organisations and health professionals.   

The mobile phone sized equipment, which can be voice activated, is plugged into the TV – enabling the viewer to connect to those important to them – making it invaluable for people who find it difficult to get out of their homes.   

The system was developed following in-depth research into the health impacts of loneliness on older people, and the barriers preventing them from communicating with friends, family and community.   

The core package will be tweaked following feedback from its trial partners such as Fernhill House, Southbank University and Age UK, with the aim that it will be launched in October.   

Research shows that more than a million of the 11 people in the UK have no human contact for a month, with 700,000 leaving the house only once week or less.   

Studies have linked loneliness to a range of health problems, from high blood pressure and a weakened immune system to depression, heart disease and strokes, with one study showing that loneliness is twice as unhealthy as obesity.    

Age UK data shows that 35 per cent of the UK's over 65s have never used the internet due to lack of interest, skills or money, with 26 per cent trying it but giving up for health reasons such as poor eyesight or cognitive function.   

Fernhill House manager Mike Dearn said: “Being lonely not only makes life miserable for older people, it also makes them more vulnerable to illness and disease.   

“Loneliness is a serious threat to a happy and healthy later life.  For many older people TV is their constant companion and they understand how it works. The Hello Daisy device is a natural extension of that and means, as long as the TV is switched on, that they can get in touch with their friends and family immediately.”   

More information can be found at https://www.hellodaisy.org