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Staff Use Technology to Keep Residents Connected with Loved Ones

“We knew moving into precautions from COVID that we were going to have to maintain connections with the outside world, with family,” said Lacey Burhle, activities director for Salina Presbyterian Manor. “We learned by doing.”

Staff members have employed a variety of video applications, including FaceTime, Zoom and Google Duo.

In addition to Lacey and her four activities assistants, social services staff have also played a key role in using technology to keep residents connected to their loved ones.

Lacey said the goal is to ensure each resident connects with family at least once a week.

“I know it’s not the same as face-to-face,” she said. “But it’s something.”

Staff members receive many emails with requests to connect from family members, but Lacey and her colleagues will also pick up the phone when needed.

“It goes both ways,” she said.

Video chats have become such an essential part of resident life that Presbyterian Manor upgraded its hardware.

“IT was wonderful and got us all new iPads,” Lacey said. Now all four activities assistants have an iPad that runs the latest software.

Most video chats replace what would have been a regular visit with a resident. Sometimes, the occasion is more special.

Recently, one resident attended a great-grandchild’s first birthday party via Zoom.

One couple living in two different areas have also used video chats to stay connected.

Don Lloyd is an independent living resident, and his wife Joann currently lives in the health care neighborhood. Though they can’t visit in person, the couple has been able to see each other thanks to iPads and FaceTime.

Although staff is available to help residents with technology needs, Lacey said many are doing just fine on their own.

“Our independent living residents have done great with attending church services on Zoom,” she said.

Lacey said responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has taught her a lot about the importance of connection.

“Everyone in health care has learned how important those connections are,” she said. “We’ve also learned that we have a lot of love to share, too.

“When family is not able to be here, we’re just going to love a little bit harder.”

PHOTO: Independent Living resident Don Lloyd chats with his wife Joann via FaceTime. Because Joann currently lives in the health care neighborhood, the couple has learned to use technology to communicate.

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