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Technology brings residents and families together during pandemic

Even though residents have been restricted from having family and friends visit during the pandemic, technology is making face-to-face time possible, while keeping connections safe and meaningful. It’s even starting to become a popular option for doctor visits.

“We’ve done almost 200 video chats of some kind. The majority have been between family and loved ones, but we do doctor visits, too. It works out well: we take the residents’ vitals and make sure the doctor’s office gets them. Then the doctor visits with the resident over video chat. We make sure that someone with the nursing staff is with the resident to help facilitate and answer questions. So far, they’ve been going really well. I think they’ve been a good substitute for an in-person visit, especially when it takes away the risk of being exposed to anything,” said Anne Allen, director of sales and marketing.

While technology can have its challenges, Anne shares that the process is really pretty simple.

“I always say the first call is always the hardest. The biggest learning curve is walking the families through the programs on their Android or iPhone. After that it’s really easy. All they have to do is call me up, and I can run a tablet up to a resident and connect them within a few minutes,” said Anne.

Anne has seen first-hand how connections via technology benefits the residents.

“The thing I love the most is seeing the joy it brings to the residents. A lot of them are still talking on the phone with family and loved ones but there’s something different when they can actually see each other. Some residents have taken it and run with it. One resident was so cute, when she was done with her chat she said, ‘I have no idea what this thing is but it’s amazing!’ We have one resident whose sister is at a nursing home far away that has been hit really hard by the virus. She would never be able to visit under any circumstance, but we’ve been able to set up three video chats with her sister because she’s been worried. It’s been a huge peace of mind to coordinate that chat with that home. That’s a great resource,” said Anne.

The virtual visits are also doing more than providing face time with loved ones.

“Sometimes the video chats are more beneficial than an in-person visit. I had one visit where they took a tour of their house – they looked at all the dogs and their grandson, who was home from college, popped in and said hi. Just in one call, I feel like the resident got a more thorough visit than if the person had just come for a visit. The resident got to enter the world of the family member. That was really cool. While it doesn’t replace a hug from a loved one, there are some advantages,” said Anne.

Celebrate a birthday. Plan a family reunion. Give a tour of a recently landscaped backyard. Say hi to mom or dad from across the country. There are many great reasons to set up a virtual visit with your loved one.