Homes keeping people connected during pandemic

Teams develop creative ways to keep everyone in the loop

Members of the Frost Manor family council are pictured here during a video conference.

While the global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions that affect visitation in long-term care homes, creative thinking on the part of OMNI Health Care team members is helping keep families and volunteers connected.

At Streamway Villa, life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Laurie Kracht and life enrichment aide Chelsea Tinney have created a Facebook page to keep residents’ family members updated regularly on the activities and programs their loved ones are participating in at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home.

Knowing residents’ families are interested in the activities offered, Laurie and Chelsea have been uploading photos and videos of socially-distanced activities and of the residents themselves to keep families up to date during the pandemic.

Family engagement on the Facebook page has been strong, Laurie says, adding family members often provide content to share.

“Families have started sending us pictures through Facebook Messenger, and we started posting those, and we’re getting e-mails left, right and centre (from family members) saying they love the page,” she says.

“I’ve had comments from family members saying (the Facebook page) makes them feel like they’re there and they know what’s going on.”

Given the changes happening in the long-term care sector due to the pandemic and the fact that family councils have not been able to meet inside long-term care homes since March, Frost Manor has been keeping its family council members and volunteers up to date on the latest news at the home by sending them the monthly activities and special events calendar.

This, says LEC Lyndsay Burton, is helping “keep the conversations flowing.”

Family council and volunteers are particularly interested in activities, events and programs, so the team wanted to keep everyone in the fold, she adds.

Lyndsay says there are a few members of Frost Manor’s family council who have stayed on the council even though they no longer have a loved one living at the home. This, she says, speaks to the value of the connections family members make with the Frost Manor team.

“We talk about the programs and what we are doing in detail,” Lyndsay says. “I will send a copy of our newsletter, especially if they don’t have a resident living here anymore, because they’ll be missing those things.”

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