When the coronavirus pandemic brought on visitor restrictions and increased isolation among senior care locations everywhere, leaders of the Good Samaritan Society wanted to keep residents engaged while keeping them safe.
It wasn't long before the organization stepped in to help maintain that family connection by purchasing 1,000 iPads for its rehab/skilled care and assisted living locations across 24 states.
Now, staff at many of those locations say they can't imagine life without these iPads in their locations. Good Samaritan Society – Bethany in Brainerd, Minnesota, received nine of them.
Thinking outside the box
“When we got them, we tried to figure out a fun way to make it more fun,” Director of Activities Rose Musasizi says.
In doing so, they took their creativity back a few decades tying in 1970s American sitcom, "The Brady Bunch." Rose printed off photos of each show character as a way to label the iPads.
"We’re so blessed to have those iPads so we can engage them with their family,” Musasizi says. "Those are the things they love the most. Being able to see them and talk to them. … the fact that we are still able to do that is amazing.”
While families are unable to enter the center, Director of Nursing Jeanne Schulz said this is the next best thing.
“I truly feel we are blessed to be a part of the Good Samaritan Society community. The way they have supported us, made sure we had the appropriate personal protective equipment ... but not only that, they bought us these iPads. That was an amazing thing to see and feel the support,” Schulz says. “Our residents have truly benefited from them, the families have been so appreciative. The residents don’t always understand they can use a phone to call and see them … but if you’ve got the iPads, which are a little bit bigger, they love it."
It's 'the sweetest thing'
Residents at locations in Albert Lea and Austin, Minnesota, jumped at the chance to visit with loved ones with the iPads.
Johnson recalls one of the first video visits she set up for a 99-year-old resident who said, “I’ve lived through a horse and buggy and now I’m seeing my son on the telephone.”
“Witnessing the residents see their loved ones on the iPad for the first time is the sweetest thing,” Johnson says. “It's so new to them.”
Giving residents an opportunity to connect with their loved ones is “bringing them life.”
“If we didn’t have this, we’d see so much more sadness and isolation.”
The iPads have come in handy for a variety of reasons outside of family connections. Staff set up appointments for doctors’ visits, music therapy and more. At other locations, iPads double for assistance with screening and check-in.
During peak hours of the day, all iPads are being utilized.
“We’re constantly wondering what’s coming next. We’re worried about our families, those missed opportunities — birthdays, weddings, funerals — all these major events,” Regional Vice President Phil Samuelson says. “That connection is so important to provide that hope, provide that sense that they’re still part of the greater community. Through iPads, we are doing that.”