During the Novel Coronavirus outbreak, it has been a challenge for seniors in assisted living programs and skilled nursing facilities to connect with family and friends in the community or across the country. At the Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program, donated Chromebook laptops are now available for use by residents to video chat with their loved ones. One resident in particular, Ruth Anderson, used technology to celebrate her 103rd birthday with her family last week.
“Oh, they can hear me?” said Anderson, as her son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren began to fill the screen for their call. A resident of Hultquist Place Assisted Living Program since 2012, Ruth turned 103 this past week. A milestone like this would normally be celebrated with friends, family, and lots of group photos, but strict social distancing precautions and fear of the unknown have prevented that from happening this year.
Three Chromebook laptops were provided to Hultquist Place by the Iroquois Healthcare Association through their Workforce Investment Organization established in 2018. The devices are primarily used for training purposes to enhance the skills of care providers. In the wake of visitation restrictions being placed on senior care communities across the state and region due to the current public health crisis, IHA WIO reconfigured the devices to be used to connect residents with the outside world. The program is done at no cost to Hultquist Place residents or staff. The Chromebook laptops are loaded with Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangout, and Zoom.
“It brought me a lot of joy to see the expression on Ruth’s face and how happy it made her that she was able to see and hear her family on her birthday,” said Candra Roach, Activities Director at Hultquist Place. “I’m thankful that we are able to offer this as an option for Ruth and others to connect with their loved ones. I’m also thankful to IHA WIO for their flexibility and willingness to make these devices available for other uses,” said Roach. The Chromebook laptops have been easy for the residents to use and the activities staff has been available to assist when needed.
Similar efforts have been made across campus at the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center. A secure video conferencing room is now available to nursing home residents who wish to communicate with friends and family off campus, plus special arrangements are also made for those who must stay in their rooms.
“We have had a lot of residents use this feature to talk to their family,” said Erin Carlson, Activities Director at the Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center. “One resident in particular is receiving Hospice care which makes the current state of the world even harder for that family. This resident has been able to talk with their family and it has made a huge difference for them and others,” said Carlson.
The efforts made by the staff at both facilities to facilitate video chatting, phone calls, and coordinate care package deliveries has made a great impact on residents struggling with the emotional effects of social distancing.