Zooming with Nanna (no we don't mean turbocharging her gopher)
There has been some great advice written about maintaining social contact during COVID-19 related periods of social isolation. Much of the information given is brilliant for many of us. Still, it is certainly geared toward the able looking after their own mental and physical health, as well as assisting those in the community who are vulnerable. Unfortunately, very little applies to those for whom social distancing means total lock-down of their living environment.
How can Aged Care Facilities and loved ones work creatively together to reduce the sense of isolation that may be sensed by those isolated from their family throughout this pandemic?
One answer is technology such as Zoom, Facetime, Skype, and other applications. Zoom is one that maybe suited for online family get-togethers. Many professionals would be familiar with this free videoconferencing technology, and others like it. For those who aren't familiar with Zoom, it is an easy to use program used between multiple parties, such as families in different locations. It offers a video, audio, and a wireless screen-sharing performance across most platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android And best of all, it can be used (with restrictions such as 40-minute limits) at no cost.
Zoom is ideal to be used in an aged care facility because it can be used hands-free. One computer within a facility can be set up to accommodate all Zoom meetings (or Zoom family get-togethers) scheduled in advance. Talk to families about this as an option and have someone in your team undertake a simple tutorial to help carry out this - it really is so easy to use. Dedicate a space with a computer where residents can be wheeled in or walk into the area where the equipment is. Ideally, have one person dedicated to the facilitation of the virtual get together and don't forget hand hygiene when touching the resident's surroundings and then computer equipment.
It is a big ask to commit to an extra task in our time-poor, overstretched Aged Care facilities, but what price do we put on relationships with those we love? Focusing on the emotional and social connections is as essential as physical and clinical aspects of care. It will maintain the connections we all need as an inclusive community at this time.