MercyCare has launched Linking Together, a program that uses a raft of ways inside MercyCare’s Aged Care homes to connect residents, with the help of MercyCare staff, with their family and friends.
Solutions range from staff supporting the traditional phone call and making direct deliveries of presents to residents, to embracing technology through creating email pals and using platforms like Skype, Zoom and Facetime to facilitate video calls.
MercyCare has sourced additional devices, including iPads and iPhones, so residents can be supported to access technology to link with their families. There are dedicated staff to support residents on site to be able to make these connections.
“Our residents well-being and mental health is as important as their physical health. Alongside providing excellent care, residents need connection to those that matter most to them – their family and loved ones,” MercyCare Aged Care Executive Director Joanne Penman said.
The use of devices has been empowering for many residents and those using MercyCare Community and Home Support services.
Alice’s* father, who receives MercyCare in-home services, has started using a tablet to connect with his family with guidance from his support worker.
“Over the weekend, I was visiting my daughter and I called him up using the App. He managed well and was excited to be able to see my daughter pottering in her garden and was waving and chatting to her husband,” Alice said.
“This is all pretty mind blowing for someone who is 75 and has not previously been a part of this digital world we now live in.
“These interactions using technology have become so more relevant in light of the current situation we all find ourselves in – Covid-19. It has been great to be able to keep in touch visually with him, especially with the social distancing and visiting rules that are in place.
“As he is now housebound, it gives me peace of mind knowing that if I can make it over to see him, I can call him up and check in on him.”
With the temporary closure of MercyCare’s McAuley House Social Centre during the coronavirus pandemic, Sal* was worried her brother would become socially isolated.a
“He’s a little nervous at times, as using the Tablet is a new concept for him as he’s never tried any electronic devices before. That being the case, he’s managing reasonably well, and with the ongoing home visits from (support workers) Lea and Nat, I’m sure he’ll become more confident,” Sal said.
“For me to be able to call him via the tablet… has been awesome, he was very excited.”
Along with support workers, staff from MercyCare’s Davis House have joined our five Aged Care homes to support the Linking Together project. These staff, along with our Occupational Therapists and spiritual care staff, are working together to connect residents in all sorts of ways with their loved ones.
The Mercycare team is now working to utilise digital technology to bring new activities to create further connections between residents and their communities.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of service users and their families