FREE iPads are to be given to care homes to help residents stay in touch with family and friends. 

Each care home in the local area can now apply for up to two of the tablet devices so that older people can use them for personal calls and medical consultations.

The Scottish Government is making £1million available for the nationwide scheme.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stressed that the iPads will not be “a substitute” for in-person visits but could allow residents to see and speak to loved ones when visits are restricted.

“It will also help clinicians such as GPs or speech and language therapists with remote consultations when that is necessary,” she added.

“That will allow them to assess residents’ health conditions without always needing to visit in person.”

Current rules allow designated visitors to see care home residents indoors but only in certain facilities and those that fulfil criteria such as weekly testing of staff.

Residents are also allowed up to six outdoor visitors at one time from no more than two households.

However, there have been concerns throughout the coronavirus pandemic that a lack of interaction with loved ones has had a detrimental impact on the mental wellbeing of many care home residents.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Staying connected will be even more important as we approach winter and the Scottish Government is committed to doing everything we can to prepare and support care home residents and the staff who look after them.”