Aged Care is a tough industry at the best of times. With a pandemic upon us that targets the elderly, weak and vulnerable, it may seem almost impossible to run a facility. Impossible to protect and care for aged dependents. Impossible to cope with consumables shortages, a failing economy and visitor restrictions.
Draw on Your Community
But a time of crisis is also when humanity’s best side shines brightest, with the kindness of family, friends and strangers creating a sense of close-knit community fighting the common enemy, illness. And amidst these unprecedented times, this community spirit must be drawn on to ensure that our aged and frail parents and grandparents are protected, not only in their physical and environmental needs, but in their mental and psychological health.
We fully realise the difficulty of maintaining a community connection in these days of restrictions and social distancing, so we gathered some tips that inspired us. Hopefully they will help to ease your load, brighten your patients’ days and give you Time to Care.
Loneliness, according to a recent study, is rife amongst Australia’s many Aged Care facilities – and loneliness is a key factor in depression and anxiety. The way to solve this problem is clearly to surround each patient with a loving community of family and friends. “But how do we do that with the current restrictions?” we can hear you asking. By bringing tech to the rescue!
Use methods of communication that your patients’ generation is familiar with to start, like letters, cards and the phone – there are a lot of pen pal programs like this one by Home Instead Senior Care, and this program by Anglican Care.
Set up a video link with the patients’ family and friends, and urge them to keep in touch – especially the younger generations (think children and teenagers) who might have more spare time on their hands. This can be via a smart phone or a more senior friendly products such as this one.
Suggest they start a family (or friends) chat on WhatsApp or another messaging platform, to keep their loved ones in the know.
Encourage able patients to join online communities and interact with them – some ideas include chess groups, knitting groups, and book/movie discussion groups – Check out how Christadelphian Care kept up the bingo games despite the social distancing measures.
Set up a ‘competition’ with patients’ friends and family, or within remote communities, to stimulate your patients’ interest – this could be an arts and crafts challenge, a book club, even an online scrabble game – and track their progress against that of their ‘opponents’.’
Ask your patients what they’d like to do! They could very likely have some great ideas to connect with their loved ones in this isolated time.
Our favourite: play a game of human hungry hippos! Watch the video here – we loved the way Bryn Celyn Home made it happen.
If there is anything the Coronavirus is teaching us it is creativity and innovation! While we are together less, we don’t have to be any less connected – remember, staying connected is as important as good hygiene in saving lives.