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BT announces Care Home Companion service to tackle loneliness in care homes

BT is announcing a pilot project to help tackle loneliness in care homes using volunteers from UK-based contact centres to make regular calls to isolated residents.

The Calls to Care Homes project was set up by a group of call centre agents who wanted to use their people skills to make a difference in their community and help tackle the issue of loneliness among the older generation.

Volunteers work with the care-home managers to find a companion with similar interests and find a suitable time to help get the budding friendships off to the best start. The scheme now has a team of over 40 volunteers from BT contact centres across the North East, who have been making calls during their shifts to Marton Care Home residents. The pilot is still in the early stages but is already creating positive results.

Doncaster will be the fourth contact centre to be involved with the scheme, with calls to local care homes started in July.

Twenty volunteers have been selected to take part in the scheme, but dozens more have showed an interest in participating. Once the programme is rolled out more widely, BT Doncaster hopes that more individuals will be able to take part and that more care homes in the area will be able to benefit from the programme.

Doncaster Echo chatted to Carol Boettcher, who is the lead on the project at Doncaster and will also be volunteering on the scheme when it officially kicks off next week.

What made you want to get involved in the project?
“I’ve always had a passion for volunteering and helping people. I’ve worked on other volunteering initiatives at BT before, helping out the Doncaster domestic abuse support group as well as the Bluebell Wood Hospice, so it’s something I enjoy getting involved in. As a BT Concierge, as soon as I heard about the Calls to Care Homes scheme at BT Gosforth, I was really keen to get our advisers involved and start making our own calls.

What is the most rewarding thing to see?
“For me, it’s really important to give back to our community and it’s rewarding to know that we can make a difference to people. A weekly call may seem like a small thing to us but it can be significant for someone else – it could make their week! I’m looking forward to listening to the stories that the residents have and hearing about their life experiences”

What more do you think could be done in the community to tackle loneliness?
“At BT, we’ve seen the effects that loneliness can have in our community, and sometimes get calls from people just looking for a chat. As a result, we’ve set up a dedicated team for vulnerable customers who might need some extra support. As call centre agents, we already spend our days chatting to people, so it’s great that we’re able to use our people skills for good.

“It’s so important that we look after members of our communities, including those suffering from loneliness, and that local individuals and businesses offer their support. Our hope is that we’ll be able to reach more people as the scheme is rolled out further and provide a listening ear to those who need it.”

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