Embracing technology, connection cafes and photo messages
Like other care providers in March, we made the difficult decision to close our care sites to all visitors including family members, friends, and volunteers to ensure that we could protect our residents and staff from the threat of Coronavirus.
We understood that it was still incredibly important for our residents to keep in touch with their families, so we helped our residents to use technology such as FaceTime and Skype, to keep in touch.
For some of our residents who have dementia, the technology was confusing, so we supported them to speak to their loved ones via telephone instead. We encouraged family members and loved ones to send in postcards, pictures, and short frequent messages, as well as care packages with loving messages and a favourite snack or magazine. These suggested items did not have to be lavish or new, as small and meaningful gifts gave residents a real emotional lift.
From the start, we have helped residents to keep in touch by video calls, telephone calls, and coordinating TV-viewing times with family that experiences can be shared together in real-time. We also set up connection cafes at some of our sites so that families and loved ones can share a cuppa together at a safe distance. We understand that the connection café approach will not be suitable for everyone, some individuals live too far away or there may be additional barriers based on the needs of people living in the service.
Our activities coordinators and managers worked with families and loved ones to arrange visits to the connection cafes.
Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to receive lots of feedback from family members and loved ones which we always welcome as this helps us improve our services. A snapshot questionnaire was sent out during the pandemic to gather further feedback. Along with a snapshot questionnaire, family members received a special message from their loved ones in photo form.
Our activities coordinators, volunteer coordinators and volunteers took photos of our residents with a message for their loved ones. Each site got creative, with some residents holding up a whiteboard with their message, and others making cards with their photo on the front.
With family members unable to visit their loved ones, we shared these photos with family members to bring a smile to their faces whilst facilitating the opportunity for residents to express themselves.
We established extra channels of communications including a weekly and now fortnightly newsletter for residents and families and these communications will be continued for the foreseeable future.
Families tell us that they felt reassured throughout the pandemic and confident that the care teams were safely looking after their loved ones.