Care Home Companion: our personal, local approach to help lighten loneliness

I want us to be personal and local in every aspect of the service we provide at BT. That's why we're the only major operator to answer 100% of our customer service calls in the UK and Ireland – so that when our customers give us a call, we can connect them to an advisor who is in their region via local call routing. It's also why we have put BT back on the high street in more than 600 of our EE stores nationwide.

That means the level of personal and local support we aim to provide is something only our three Consumer brands – BT, EE and Plusnet – can offer. It's important for every customer, for the communities we’re part of, and it's something every one of my colleagues believes in.

I've seen my colleagues' personal approach shine through since the world changed for us all three months ago. Not only are they working hard to keep the UK connected at a time when we all need to stay in touch more than ever. They've been putting care packages together for people working in local hospitals, 3D-printing face visors for frontline NHS workers, or delivering supplies to people self-isolating in their hometowns.

Our people keep doing amazing things.

Calls for Care Homes

During Loneliness Awareness Week, I want to share another brilliant colleague-led initiative – and I could not be prouder of the people who have made it happen. Volunteers from our BT contact centres in Gosforth and Doncaster have been making weekly calls to local care homes to help combat loneliness among socially-isolated care home residents. It was born of a project my colleague Chris Reid first began, called ‘Give A Little Bit’.

Now we’re calling this pilot initiative Care Home Companion.

COVID-19 and the lockdown that came into force in March has created an epidemic of loneliness. To help address that, my colleagues are using the interpersonal skills they use to support customers every day to build friendships. They’re having meaningful conversations with care home residents who might otherwise not have anyone else to talk to.

EE and BT have provided mobile handsets and SIM cards to each care home. Our volunteers work with the homes to arrange a suitable time to call their companions. After the pilot project's initial success, we are looking at rolling it out across our contact centres, from Canterbury to Greenock to Enniskillen, because it can be so rewarding for everyone involved. This is just the beginning.

My colleague Bev, who helped to set up the scheme, has spent her time speaking with Pat. In Bev's own words:

"I know I’m going to be grinning throughout the call. I just enjoy talking to her about things I would have done or watched as a child. It brings back lovely memories. When people go into a care home, they tend to not get a lot of visitors, so it's an important thing to do. These people are telling us personal things, they’re opening up to us.

"Although this is new to me, it’s quite close to home because my mother is currently in a care home with dementia. She's since forgotten who we are, but I always think about her when I'm doing these calls. We’ve heard of residents who have hardly left their rooms, prior to receiving our calls. Now they’ll socialise with the other residents, telling them all about their chat with us."

I know just how much more our people do beyond the personal, local customer service they provide. And I know there are projects like this helping people in our local communities are happening up and down the UK. I talk a lot about our mission to make BT a National Champion, breaking down barriers and going Beyond Limits for our customers, for our people and the rest of the country. This initiative from my colleagues to lighten loneliness in care homes is one awesome realisation of that.

We connect for good.

- Marc Allera, Consumer CEO


Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @marcallera


About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2020, BT Group’s reported revenue was £22,905m with reported profit before taxation of £2,353m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London stock exchange.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com