Care home with screen and speech transfer system

Clear communication for care homes during COVID

After more than three months of restricted access for visitors to care homes, managers are now finding ways of bringing residents and their families together while still protecting them from coronavirus.

Rooms within the homes, or specially built summer houses in the gardens, mean residents can finally see their loved ones.  A clear Perspex screen between them prevents the possible spread of infection.

But while both parties can see each other clearly, the screen can be a barrier to them hearing each other clearly.

Can you hear me?

Care home residents are likely to have compromised hearing because of their age – in fact, a third of over 65s have some form of hearing loss.  So, any screens a home installs should be fitted with an intercom or ‘speech transfer system.’

But not all intercoms are equal.  And with infection control a key consideration, there are specific features to look out for.


An intercom system should be permanently on when the room is in use.  This avoids confusion for residents and families as to how to operate it.

It also means that no-one needs to press a button to speak and conversation can flow as normal.

More importantly, hands-free operation is more hygienic.  Plastic housing on the units means they can be wiped clean and disinfected after each visit.

Works for families

Care homes may welcome two or three members of the same family into their specially-adapted room.  The microphones in the intercom system need a wide range to be able to pick up the voices of all the family members, not just the one sitting closest to it.

Contacta units use high-quality ‘boundary’ microphones that are designed to pick up sound from a wide angle.

Choosing the right model can make seeing loved ones as normal an experience as possible, crucial for those residents with cognitive impairment. 


An intercom system should include small speakers which can be placed on a table on either side of the screen.  Slim microphones, which can be fitted to the screen or attached to the table, don’t create a distraction or confusion.

Options for hearing aid users

It’s likely that a high proportion of residents in care homes will be hearing-aid wearers.

Read our guidance on designing an inclusive care home for those with hearing loss

For that reason, an intercom system should feature a hearing loop.

The hearing loop amplifies the sound from the microphone.  By switching a hearing aid to the ‘T’ position, users receive that sound directly into their hearing aid, cutting out background noise.

So, conversation won’t be disturbed by the people in the next room or a strong wind outside the garden room.

Read how Argentum Lodge Care Home in Nailsea is bringing families together with a Contacta Systems intercom.

See our range

We have a new range of affordable, easy-to-install intercom or ‘speech transfer systems’ that are ideal for care homes.

Contacta’s speech transfer systems include a hearing loop.

They can make meeting loved ones a relaxed experience.  They can also be used at reception desks if protective screens have been installed here.

See the range here

You can also call us and speak to one of our team for more information or advice on 01732 223900.

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