It is almost impossible to find a person in Canada today who has not been impacted by COVID-19. Every family across the country has been coping with some level of change in routine.
One group particularly hard hit by recent changes are people living in long-term care or assisted living homes. In an effort to protect this vulnerable group, homes have restricted visitor access, changed group activities, and modified dining routines.
To help ease the burden and keep families connected, the Overlander long-term care home in Kamloops has been getting creative.
They set up a family hotline to coordinate information sharing and arrange video conference calls between people living at Overlander and their loved ones.
The Royal Inland Hospital Foundation, the Overlander Auxiliary and even a few community members have generously donated technology to allow these virtual meetings to keep happening.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to check in with families, let them know we are doing okay, and give them updates on visiting, care packages and how to keep in touch,” says recreation therapist Sherri Molnar.
“This is a true extension of the work we already do in recreation. Part of our role is to establish and maintain relationships with families, and programs like the family hotline help to support the communication that our community has come to depend on.”
To protect the health of people living and working in long-term care and assisted living facilities, in-person visits have been restricted to essential visitors only. So the creative team at Overlander has set up window visits where families sit outside the window and call in to our cell phone to speak with their loved one.
“Window visits have become quite popular,” says Sherri. “We have created a frame of hearts where the families sit, and they get a chance to look each other in the eye, and speak on the phone. Some really heart-warming conversations have happened between husbands who used to be able to visit every day, to children placing their hands on the glass to feel like they are holding grandma’s hand. It’s one way we can reassure our families that their loved one is not alone, and we care for them too.”