Forest Hill keeping residents and families connected through technology

Forest Hill resident Sandra Presley is pictured here enjoying a video chat with her daughter Lori.

Video-chat platforms, such as Skype and FaceTime, are ensuring residents and families are staying in contact during COVID-19 crisis

Forest Hill residents and their loved ones have been staying connected during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the wonders of modern technology and the efforts of the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home’s team members.

Forest Hill, along with OMNI Health Care’s other 17 long-term care homes, is closed to everyone but essential visitors to protect residents and team members during the COVID-19 crisis.

This means residents and their families are missing their regular visits, which are an important part of life in long-term care homes.

But for the past week and a half, residents and their loved ones have been able to stay in touch through video-chat platforms the Forest Hill team has made available to them.

As soon as the pandemic forced long-term care homes to close their doors to visitors, Forest Hill contacted families to let them know the home is offering a video chatting service.

“The response has was overwhelming,” says Forest Hill life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Craig Forrest.

“I came in and my e-mail was full, and I had messages on my phone from people who wanted to connect with their loved ones.”

Craig says one benefit to using video chatting is that residents of all cognitive abilities have adapted well to it.

Even family members who do not have access to computers or iPads can use video chats to speak with their loved ones.

One family member has been driving to the Forest Hill parking lot where he’s met by a staff member wearing protective gear who hands him an iPad so he can have a FaceTime chat with his wife.

When their chats are over, staff retrieves the iPad and thoroughly disinfects the device before bringing it back inside the home.

The service has been important to the family member because he was visiting his wife up to three times a day, Craig says.

“It’s really helpful for the residents, but I also find it’s therapeutic for the families,” the LEC says of the service.

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