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Recognising where help is needed Being united and innovative throughout the pandemic

The pandemic demonstrated dramatically how quickly and flexibly people react when the situation demands it. In a very short space of time, Helsana had set up an internal Corona-Task-Force, shifted to home working, and was able to offer simple and straightforward support to customers in their time of need.

The pandemic hit people in different ways. For our customers who were struggling with payments, we quickly decided to grant generous deferrals. For people who found themselves isolated, we were able to help some by giving tablets to various institutions to enable people to use video calls to interact with their relatives. This included inpatients who were receiving treatment for COVID-19 or who were otherwise isolated as they belonged to an at-risk group. Around a hundred devices were in use by Easter in institutions in the Zurich area, central Switzerland and Ticino.

The idea of donating tablets came from Stefanie Schneuwly in Helsana’s Corporate Development team. Stefanie also led the implementation of the initiative.

We use electronic communication intensively. But many older people in particular do not have access to it – and they were the ones who were especially isolated. In their situation, contact with relatives is especially important.

Stefanie Schneuwly, Corporate Development specialist, Helsana

Looking back, Stefanie is still impressed by the flexibility shown by all parties. The IT department helped select the most suitable devices: tablets, as they are relatively easy to set up. Stefanie contacted hospitals, nursing homes and Spitex organisations herself. And although the institutions found it logistically challenging, they got the devices up and running, and quickly being used.

In Lucerne, for example, coordination with Spitex organisations and neighbourhood associations was handled by the “Anlaufstelle Alter”. In hospitals, the joint effort with receptions, central services, IT and nursing was highly cooperative and went very smoothly. “We soon had the first positive feedback,” says Stefanie. “Carers said there was a great sense of gratitude from those affected.”

The elderly reacted very positively. One 85-year-old lady was in tears that she could finally see her great-grandson who was born a couple of days earlier.

Evelyne Schrag, Head of the Old-Age Outreach Centre, City of Lucerne

Tablets have also been given to intensive care units in hospitals and old people’s homes. In some old people’s homes, a room with tablets has been reserved since 2020 for residents to have video calls with their relatives. Given the success of the initiative, it has been extended into 2021.

We thought people who had never made a video call before might have reservations. But most took to it quickly and very well, and we were really able to help.

Stefanie Schneuwly, Corporate Development specialist, Helsana

Especially in these difficult times, contact with friends and family is important for your health. It improves your well-being and keeps you grounded.

Corona Immunitas

Helsana is supporting science in the fight against COVID-19. We donated over half a million Swiss francs to support the University of Zurich’s Corona Immunitas initiative. The initiative aims to gather the most detailed information possible on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on mental and physical health as well as on social and professional life in Switzerland.

Helsana is also financing the “Sentinella” study that is planned for the canton of Zurich. The study will monitor selected classes in lower, middle and upper schools to research the spread of the disease in classes and schools. Unique in the world, the study intends to answer important questions in an education context and is unique in the world.

Find out more about the Corona Immunitas initiative here

Find out more