With the changes to everyday life and restriction on seeing loved ones due to COVID-19, residents are more susceptible to social isolation and feelings of loneliness. It’s unclear when precautions will be lifted and visitation and outings will be allowed again. Some experts predict long-term changes and some COVID-19 related practices to stay in place for years to come.
Regardless, solutions are needed now to help reunite residents and loved ones. Here a few ways senior living communities are bridging the 6-foot gap while maintaining clear communication.
Window visits allow families to see their loved ones in person while maintaining the 6-foot distance needed during the pandemic. Senior communities across the country have implemented window visits as a regular activity. Here are some heartfelt examples of successful window visits at Samaritan Summit Village and Wells Nursing Home Inc.;
Planning a window visit is as easy as coordinating with staff who work at your loved one’s facility. The staff will be able to get your loved one to the right place and provide any assistance. If your loved one is on the ground floor, you will be able to visit their apartment window, otherwise, staff will designate a window in the facility to have your visit instead.
A complete visitation station is the best option to ensure family and senior loved ones get the most out of their time together. When visits are through a closed window, like this 100th birthday celebration from Commonwealth Senior Living, or in a courtyard or behind partitions it can be difficult to hear and fully enjoy the visit.
Eversound is improving visitation with their newly designed,Visitation Package,that includes headphones, microphones, transmitters and charging bases to overcome communication barriers. With the use of these headphones, residents and families can clearly and successfully communicate from safe distances or behind barriers.
Any community can be turned to a visitation station with the right tools. No partition? No problem. Companies like Modernfold offer a variety of partitions or a window or clear barrier in your community can be used.
A final way to see loved ones in person is by utilizing the summer weather for outdoor visits. By use of a courtyard or parking lot, communities are moving outside to make visitations possible.
Some senior care facilities are using parking lots not only for the space but to keep families inside and to use parking lot lines to show the correct distance. Akron Care Center shared their parking lot visit with a resident in their wheelchair and mask on. Other communities are utilizing their courtyards to keep a barrier between family and resident while still allowing them to be at a safe but close range. York Care Centre shared their success with outdoor visits here as well as Samaritan Summit Village Skilled Nursing celebrating a birthdayin their terrace!
How to Address Communication Challenges as Distance Increases
It is common for residents in senior living facilities to suffer from some form of hearing impairment, and even less common for sufferers to consistently wear a hearing aid. As residents and their loved ones are asked to communicate from longer distances, the quality of the conversation can be impacted due to these hearing limitations, which can be further distorted by internet connections or spotty cell service. Eversound is the only headphone system designed for senior living and can overcome barriers up to 300 feet without the reliance of Wi-Fi or cellular services, allowing for seamless 2-way communications.
Other Ways to Connect Beyond Video Calls
A virtual game night could be a perfect alternative for your tech-savvy loved one. If they have their own laptop or tablet there are tons of easy games to play with friends and family instantly. If you are interested in a virtual game nightand your loved one isn’t familiar with the technology, reach out to their community staff for help with set up!
Send a Card
Cards aren’t just for birthdays! Sending a card to your loved one is a quick and simple way to connect.
Putting together a box of your loved one’s favorite things is a nice surprise and is a way to connect when you can’t be together in person. Include photos of recent days, and things they can use or do during their time socially distanced.
Send a Meal
Order from a nearby take-out place and send them a meal. Bonus points to do a virtual dinner date where you eat the same food over a video chat!
Nothing Beats In-Person Connection
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a struggle for all, but seniors are an especially vulnerable group who feel the repercussions more and for a longer time. More than ever before, it’s important to keep seniors engaged and connected to loved ones in any way possible.