Technology company Alertacall says it is going the extra mile this Christmas to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness among its 20,000 older customers by sending cards and making additional calls to those most in need.
Alertacall provides a housing management service for social landlords and daily contact for sheltered and supported housing customers via its smart tech OKEachDay service, delivering extra seasonal reassurance calls to residents as well as sending personalised Christmas cards, which includes a letter with a season’s greetings message from Dame Esther Rantzen.
With research from The Observer indicating as many as 1.7m people are expected to be home alone next week on Christmas Day, double the usual levels as a result of the pandemic, the Alertacall team is providing the additional service at no extra cost to its social housing provider clients.
It has reached out to those identified through their highly trained Call Centre as being most at risk of loneliness and isolation.
A study from The Red Cross in the autumn found that as many as 39% of UK adults had not had a meaningful conversation with someone for over a fortnight.
As part of its service, Alertacall provides a touchscreen tablet for residents with an OKEachDay button they can press to confirm everything is fine at their property.
Housing providers use the service to improve communication with customers, deliver a better repairs reporting service, and track occupancy.
Alertacall says OKEachDay is based upon the principle that, by increasing contact in a way the customer controls, instead of providing a reactive service, it becomes possible to gain a more thorough understanding of changing needs.
In the Christmas card sent to residents, the company has included a letter from Dame Esther Rantzen.
Dame Esther said: “I would like to take this opportunity also to send you my very warmest wishes in these tough times.
“I’m so glad that their organisation stays in contact with older people when this horrible virus targets us.
“I know that Christmas can sometimes exacerbate feelings of loneliness, especially when we compare this year with happy memories of the past, and I want you to know there are people to talk to and people who care for you.”
Ben Lambert, head of Client Relations for Alertacall, added: “Each year between Christmas and New Year, we telephone our most isolated and vulnerable customers simply to have a chat.
“While penned as ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, this is not the case for so many people, whose feelings of loneliness are compounded by the festive season.
“The idea of making additional calls over the Christmas period originally came from one of our Contact Centre team members, who felt like it would not only be a great thing to do, but the right thing to do.
“This year, more than ever, has given many of us a glimpse into what it means to feel isolated and lonely and the value and importance of human contact – so I’m very pleased we’re continuing this great initiative.”
- Dame Esther is the founder of charity The Silver Line, a free, confidential, help, advice, and friendship line for older people feeling isolated. The Silver Line can be reached on 0800 4708090
Are you a social housing professional? Sign up for a FREE MEMBERSHIP to upload news stories, post job vacancies, and connect with colleagues on our secure social feed.