South Australian aged care provider Life Care is using technology and glass to ensure residents can continue to see family members during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new programs come in response to visitor restrictions that aim to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in residential aged care (read more here).

Allen Candy

Life Care has provided iPads to its five residential facilities in Adelaide to facilitate Skype or FaceTime sessions between residents and  their children and grandchildren.

Residents are also catching up with family members through the Windows of Love program, which is a face-to-face catch up through glass while speaking over the phone.

Life Care CEO Allen Candy said it was  important to keep residents safe while continuing to support their emotional and physical wellbeing throughout the pandemic.

“Social distancing and restricting visiting can have a significant impact on the day-to-day lives and routines of our residents and their families, so that means finding new ways to keep family bonds going for those in our care,” Mr Candy said.

Life Care residents are also getting involved in creating artworks while residents from  Life Care’s Gaynes Park Manor home are being pampered by staff at the onsite hairdressing salon.

“We’ve increased our staffing to run a range of new programs and initiatives across our sites to keep residents connected to their families and the community, and so they can continue to enjoy their hobbies,” Mr Candy said.

“We understand that all families want to do right now is visit their loved ones, so we’re trying to balance that with keeping our older people safe and minimise the risk of infection. We take the view that we’re in this together,” he said.

Tech supports rollout of new activities 

A Catholic Healthcare resident using WhatsApp to video call family

New South Wales provider Catholic Healthcare is also using technology to keep  residents connected and engaged with loved ones.

Staff at Catholic Healthcare  are assisting residents to make  video calls with family members and  adding new activities to its recreation program including live-streamed concerts, virtual Tai Chi and Zumba and inter-home trivia competitions.

Residents are also receiving  letters and care packages from school children now unable to  visit.

Catholic Healthcare residents receive letters from school students

Catholic Healthcare national lifestyle manager Wendy Lawrence said staff are sharing innovative ideas to keep residents engaged.

“Across our network of 41 homes, our staff have drawn inspiration from around the world and come up with innovative new programs and are using technology to tailor our much-loved activities and maintain the vibrancy of our homes,” Ms Lawrence said.

Through the program, a resident and her husband shared a virtual birthday party and another resident was able to see and speak to her grandchildren who live interstate.

“It’s a testament to the resilience and the tenacity of our residents,” Ms Lawrence said.

“We must remember that many of them would never have dreamed of picking up an iPad before, let alone tried to Skype. But with the assistance of our staff they are embracing new opportunities and inspiring us in the process, she said.

Catholic Healthcare said video calls will be a permanent addition to care model.

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