For the longest time, care homes like Fulford relied on face-to-face human contact to keep spirits up and maintain a connection to the outside world.
However, the COVID pandemic changed the game when it came to keeping residents connected to their friends and family. With visits heavily restricted over the past two years, we’ve had to find increasingly creative ways to help our residents stay in touch.
In this short post, we share 3 ways we’ve used technology to connect residents and their families.
4 ways we’ve used technology to connect residents and families
In the past, visiting hours and phone calls were often the only opportunities for nursing home residents to learn how their friends and family were doing.
However, thanks to social media, our residents can now check in with their loved ones online, viewing photos, reading updates, and leaving messages whenever it suits them.
Since COVID, we’ve seen a growing number of older people turn to Facebook to stay connected, with 9.3% of Facebook users in the UK now aged 65 and over. That’s why our staff are increasingly on hand to help residents set up and use Facebook safely.
Whether they want to keep in touch with family members or reconnect with old friends, our residents get the guidance they need to navigate the new (and sometimes confusing) world of social media.
2. Video calls
In a similar vein to Facebook, video calls have risen in popularity in care homes since COVID. During the lockdown, where visits were highly restricted (or prohibited altogether), video calls were a saving grace for many of our residents. It gave them a lifeline to the outside world, allowing them to chat with (and see) their loved ones on the screen.
Traditional phone calls were always an essential part of remaining connected with friends and family, but the ability to see a familiar face at the same time can be incredibly comforting — especially during times of anxiety and uncertainty.
And although in-person visiting has largely returned to normal, video calls remain a popular way for residents to spend time with loved ones, at a distance, on an ad hoc basis.
3. WhatsApp groups
We’ve also encouraged many of our residents and their families to set up a family WhatsApp group to stay connected on a daily basis. This can involve sending messages, sharing photos and videos, and leaving voice notes for one another.
Again, our staff are available to help residents get to grips with their smartphones, reply to messages, and snap photos to share.
4. VPass – visitor management system
Finally, to streamline visits and ensure GDPR (data protection) compliance, we’ve invested in VPass — a contactless visitor management system.
Visitors can quickly scan a QR code with their smartphone to sign in and safely gain access to the home. This cuts down on waiting times, as previously families had to fill out paperwork prior to their visits, giving them more time with their loved ones.
Other ways technology has benefited our residents (and staff)
While many of our residents have their own smartphone and tablet devices, some do not, and others aren’t confident or capable enough to use them regularly.
Our staff have been trained to support our residents with their devices, and we also have a few tablets in the home that can be shared with those who don’t have one (or can’t use one).
Encouragingly, we’re finding new ways to enhance our residents’ lives with these devices beyond the 3 ways mentioned above. By using tablets to listen to music, watch videos, browse the web, and virtually visit places on Google Maps, we can help them recall treasured memories and spark conversation. We’ve also personalised playlists for residents, meaning we can pull up their favourites in just a few taps, improving mood and reducing boredom.
But we’re also seeing positive impacts on our staff, too. The tablets offer another way to meaningfully engage with residents, while they can also be used to support their day-to-day tasks, like note-taking and care planning.
Learn more about Fulford
If you’d like to learn more about Fulford’s use of technology — or anything else — please contact us on 01904 654 269. We’re ready to listen and happy to help.