As one of the last services with the infrastructure to visit every home every day, Royal Mail’s 125,000 postmen and women could be taking on a frontline role in tackling loneliness.
The innovative scheme by Call&Check has been successfully supporting vulnerable people in Jersey since 2013, and now as part of the Government’s first ever loneliness strategy, will be piloted across three regions in the UK.
Working with the Home Office, Royal Mail, local authorities and voluntary sector agents in Liverpool, New Malden and Whitby, Call&Check are trailing their pioneering, innovative service in the UK under the Safe and Connected banner.
Ricky Le Quense, Postman for Jersey Post, comments: “It’s a way of making sure that vulnerable people, people who are lonely, have a friendly face knocking on their door and checking they are ok. We ask them a few questions to make sure they are getting the support they need as well as the interaction with someone they can trust. It’s giving them an extra pair of eyes and knowing that we are providing a caring hand to help them get the support they need.”
Call&Check works to link people living in their own homes with support from their family, neighbours and friends, before connecting them with further support from local community voluntary and statutory services. The trial will provide clearer understanding of how the service can help people, particularly those at risk of feelings on loneliness and isolation, to stay in their homes, living well and feeling safe and connected.
“Loneliness is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time”, Theresa May said as she launched the first cross-Government loneliness strategy. Speaking of the new strategy, Theresa May continued, “one of the best ways of tackling loneliness is through simple acts of kindness, from taking a moment to talk to a friend to helping someone in need. This strategy is only the beginning of delivering a long and far reaching social change in our country – but it is a vital first step in a national mission to end loneliness in our lifetimes.”
The Call&Check service offers regular scheduled visits from Royal Mail’s postal workers to pre-selected volunteer participants to check on their wellbeing. Asking a series of questions, postie’s then share this information with the relevant local authority teams – Age Concern (Liverpool City Council), Living Well (North Yorkshire County Council) and Staywell Services (Kingston London Borough Council) – who will take action as appropriate, putting people in touch with someone who can help them, for example, a local community or voluntary service on the ground.
“We are delighted Call&Check has been chosen for the Safe and Connected trial in the UK,” said Phil Romeril, Director of Call&Check Jersey. “It has been exciting to be part of a project partnership that has brought together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sector, collaborating to successfully bring the trial to the public. Since the first trials began in Jersey in 2013, supported by Jersey Post, Call&Check has garnered global recognition, awards and interest. By enabling coordinating support, reducing pressure on traditional services, families and carers, and creating new revenue streams for the postal service, Call&Check is a win-win-win for everyone involved. Participants love it, they feel supported and more confident in their own homes knowing someone they trust is looking out for them.”
Call&Check inventor Joe Dickinson said: “I recently recall Mary, 84 years old, saying 'You must make Call&Check available to other people like me as my regular twice-a-week postie visits have meant so much’. Mary had lived alone for the past 10 years but was now going into a care home because of illness. Mary had received weekly Call&Check visits for the past four years and was convinced that knowing someone was calling and checking on her had given her the peace of mind to stay in the home she loved and where she wanted to be for so long. It was in 2012 when I first had the idea that a postal operator’s infrastructure as the last service provider to visit every home daily could be evolved to support the lonely, isolated and vulnerable members of our community. Over the past five years, this has proved to be the case. Ever since the Call&Check service has received recognition, it has become clear from the enquiries we have received from around the world that trying to find ways of supporting people to stay in their own homes for as long as possible is a global problem. It is our belief that Call&Check is one of the ways to address this major issue facing our communities.”
Speaking as Call&Check’s technology partner, Gary Baksi, NexJ Health’s Executive Vice President & General Manager, said, “NexJ Connected Wellness will act as the glue that brings together community resources, health, and safety services around a people-centred model for the Call & Check program. We are thrilled to be participating in this important initiative to combat loneliness and improve community health and safety in the UK, helping people stay in their own homes for as long as possible.”
For further information on the UK Call&Check Safe and Connected trials and for interview requests, please contact:
Notes to Editors
The Call&Check service will help participants with the following:
Health and wellbeing
Checking how customers are feeling, both physically and mentally – if they have taken their medication, if they need any help, if there is anything troubling them, if they have any requests to pass on to their circle of care.
Safety and security
Supporting customers with issues including nuisance calls, harassment, unwanted visits, antisocial or threatening behaviour, rowdiness and crime in their local area.
Financial support and security
Checking for phone/email scams, begging letters and rogue traders, as well as connecting clients to reputable agencies such as Citizens Advice.
Community and social connection
Putting voluntary services and community groups in touch with Call&Check customers to access services, and introducing people to hobby and shared interest groups – addressing loneliness and isolation.
Property management and support
Arranging for community services such as home fire-safety checks and putting Call&Check customers in touch with trusted companies and tradespeople – vital for helping people to remain at home safely and with confidence.
Testimonials from Call&Check users and industry experts
It makes me feel so much better knowing that I get my postie’s friendly call to check on me three times a week. Amy, 82, living at home
Knowing my mum gets checked on every day during the week takes some of the pressure off my wife and I, and gives us additional peace of mind. Mike, son of Call&Check participant
I am an independent person but I look forward to my Call&Check visit. Derek, 90, living alone
Many people don’t want to be visited by social workers or carers, but everyone talks to their postie. Joe Dickinson, Inventor of Call&Check
We can no longer rely solely on healthcare for our health. Call&Check is essentially leading the world in thinking differently and bravely. Dr Pritpal S Tamber MBChB, leading health innovator
Frequently Asked Questions
How does Call&Check work?
Postal workers involved with the Safe and Connected trial incorporate Call&Check into their normal rounds. Carers and family feel more supported and reassured that their loved one is being checked on at times that they cannot do this for themselves. Within our local community, people step in to help and support their neighbours, and voluntary services welcoming new people into their fold. Most importantly, recipients love it, secure in the knowledge that they are safe and supported in their homes with someone looking out for them.
What is the technology behind Call&Check?
The Call&Check service is supported by a bespoke IT system named the Call&Check Engine. Built by NexJ Health, the software enables us to connect the conversation at the door directly into the Call&Check team, who can then alert the supporting organisations if help is needed. As this system is web-based and is therefore “live”, this allows us to manage any support need quickly and effectively. Any data held in the system is held in secure cloud servers operated by IBM and has been designed to meet the newly introduced data protection requirements of the EU’s GDPR Law.
“We are thrilled to be supporting the Call&Check programme, leveraging NexJ Health’s virtual-care platform as the technology behind the solution,” explained Gary Baksi, Executive Vice President and General Manager, NexJ Health. The Call&Check Engine is a robust and scalable virtual-care platform with a mobile-first strategy for a smooth user experience. The platform will run seamlessly on the postal worker’s handheld device, allowing them to capture important information at the doorstep that is shared immediately with the person’s personal circle of care. By moving ‘upstream’, the Call&Check Engine virtual-care platform serves as the glue for collaboration within communities to support safety and wellness for their at-risk citizens, and creates an improved economic model for supporting people at home.”
How did Call&Check come to be?
Increasing numbers of elderly people who need more help to continue living safely in their own homes, and postal services whose bread-and-butter letter deliveries are drying up in a digital world. Two disconnected issues, no obvious solution. Then in 2012, Call&Check inventor Joe Dickinson had an idea: bring them together so trusted postal workers check up on people on their rounds and put them in touch with their families, friends, carers, GP and voluntary groups.
Call&Check is actively working with postal operators, governments, healthcare providers and health-insurance companies around the world to adopt and develop Call&Check further. Postal operators benefit from increased recognition in the social value of their services and a new revenue stream during a period of declining mail volumes; health and social service providers benefit from improved, coordinated care, achieving support around the individual and helping them stay for longer in their own homes; while health and social care funders benefit from reduced costs of services, enabling reallocation of resources and funds into other areas.
A recent report from the IBM Institute for Business Value highlights that for our ageing population, loneliness is more than a state of mind; it is an emerging risk factor that has implications for personal, economic and societal wellbeing. Stakeholders including business leaders, medical professionals and government organisations have a significant interest in preventing, identifying and addressing the root cause of loneliness.
Cited in both the IBM report (attached) and the latest report from the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) on the importance of Achieving the Provision of Integrated Care, Call&Check is recognised as a countermeasure to help older adults as they face continued detachment from the mainstream even as their numbers grow. IBM research explores how organisations in many industries can act to help older adults strengthen their social network and reconnect with others. Call&Check is a tangible way for businesses and government to address this looming crisis.