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Technology brings residents and families together during pandemic

Even though residents have been restricted from havingfamily and friends visit in person during the pandemic, technology is making face-to-facetime possible, keeping connections safe and meaningful.

“A lot of our residents have iPhones or iPads and they don’tknow how to use FaceTime, so I’ve gone around and shown them how to access itand how we can use it with multiple family members at once. They really thinkthat’s cool. They’ve been able to actually see people that they didn’t thinkthey would have an opportunity to visit with because they weren’t that techsavvy,” said Lori Peters, activity director and master level social worker.

Throughout the pandemic, Lori has seen first-hand howtechnology is bringing residents and their families close together – even whenspread out all over the country.  

“For Mother’s Day, we had children who lived in differentparts of the country use FaceTime to get together with mom. One son hadn’t seenhis two sisters and he had been working on his home, which his mom hadn’t seeneither. So, he took everyone on a tour to see the changes he’d made. They wereall excited because they wouldn’t have seen it otherwise,” said Lori. “Technologyis not just about seeing people, but their environments, their homes, thethings they’re passionate about. They’re able to share that through technologywith family members who may not ever be able to see them, even without therestrictions due to COVID.”

Residents living in assisted living and independent livinghave adjusted well to this new way of communicating.

“They’ve embraced it and love it! Less so, to a largerdegree, in health care just because we have more people with higher acuityillness. With dementia, it’s much harder to understand. They question whythey’re looking at a picture. I think it can be overwhelming for them. Theyneed more physical connection with people,” said Lori.

We all need connection with people, whether in person or bytechnology, as it has multiple benefits.

“We’re human beings: connectedness and relationships are ourmake-up. That’s who we are as people. We have to have those relationships tostay mentally and emotionally healthy. In these times when family think it’ssuch a tragedy their parent is locked up here and they can’t see anybody, familymembers can see video and photos we email of their loved ones doing all thethings we normally do just in a social distancing way. They’re still livingtheir life and enjoying things. It’s important family members see that so itmitigates feelings that it’s a tragic situation. They start realizing lifedidn’t just stop with this, it’s still going on, just a little differentlyright now,” said Lori.

While the visitor restrictions won’t last forever, there’s agood chance communicating with family via technology will.

“It doesn’t replace hugging, but it helps with feelingconnected,” added Lori.

To set up a call with a loved one, family members cancontact Lori at 620-506-0130. Residents can initiate a call with Lori or amember of the nursing staff. There’s a team who are all armed with iPads,thanks to a grant through Cares Act that made it possible to purchase extraiPads.

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