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Ask The Nurse: Top tips for staying connected

In this month's blog, we share some tips on how to stay connected while following COVID-19 shielding guidance

Ask The Nurse // 2nd April 2020

Having a social life and keeping connected with friends and family is important for your health and wellbeing. But for patients needing to follow shielding measures during the COVID-19 outbreak, socialising and keeping up with hobbies in the same way isn’t possible.

Helpfully, there are many ways technology can fill this gap. In this month’s blog, we wanted to share some top tips and fun ideas to help you keep in touch with each other.

What can I use to keep in touch?

There are many ways to keep in touch through technology and what you use will depend on your preferences and needs.

This is where apps (applications) come in. Apps are software packages that can be downloaded onto your phone, tablet or computer. They allow you to add extra functionality to your device (e.g. video call, play a game, access your bank account, write your to-do list).

Each device will have somewhere you can download apps from, which differs depending on the make of the device or operating system running on it – for example, Apple devices like iPhones have the ‘App Store’ and Android devices have ‘Google Play’.

What apps can I use?

There are many different apps available that allow you to do text-based messaging, audio calls, video calls and social media. Smartphones (and some tablets) have inbuilt message, audio and video calling functions, but sometimes you might want to use something else that better fits your needs, particularly if you want to have conversations with multiple people at once.

Some useful apps include*:

Social media

Social media is a way of connecting with people and sharing content. Many social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, make it easy to stay in touch with others. You can share your thoughts, pictures and videos, and comment on what your friends have shared.

You can set up private groups on Facebook, allowing you to create posts and comments that only you and the other people in your group can see. You could create a private Facebook group with your family members, friends, colleagues or support group members.

Platforms like Facebook also have a messaging function, called Facebook Messenger, which allows you to send private messages to individuals or groups. This is perfect for keeping in touch with multiple friends and family in one place. You can also use Facebook Messenger to audio call and video call.

Tips for keeping in touch

Schedule it in

We recommend making a regular appointment each day or week to catch up with friends and family members via a phone call or video call.

It’s also a good idea to try to stick to your normal routine and transfer your usual catch ups online.

Make video calls part of everyday life at home

Seeing someone’s face while talking to them can make the experience even better, and it can be fun to integrate video calls into your home activities, as if your friends and family are in the room with you. For example, you could:

  • Catch up with a coffee over video call
  • Make dinner and eat it with one or several friends/family members
  • Watch a film or TV show together – there are a number of apps that allow you to watch together and chat, e.g. Skype or Netflix Party

Do something fun together

There are lots of activities available that you can do with family and friends online. You can:

  • Host or take part in a virtual pub quiz. You can find people running online pub quizzes by searching online
  • Play a game online through a computer or games console. You can also download gaming apps like Words With Friends and play together remotely
  • Have a drawing, writing or baking competition
  • Have a virtual coffee morning and enjoy some homemade cake over video call, or share your cooking and recipes through a Facebook Live video

Take your hobbies and interests online

Being part of an online group that shares a particular interest can be a fun way of making new friends and maintaining your hobbies. You can start your own group or find one to join, for example a book or crafting group. Having a look on social media to see what already exists can be a good place to start.

You might find that organisations in your local area have started organising online activities and groups. Make sure to check your church, community centre, library and local group websites and social media pages to find out what they’ve set up.

There are lots of ways to connect with others using technology, but it doesn’t matter whether you decide to try something new or to just pick up the phone and call someone. Whatever you decide to do, keep in touch.

*Please note that Myeloma UK do not endorse any particular apps