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Longterm care home using technology to connect families amid crisis

The video chats will be arranged as long as visitors are restricted

A long-term care home is using technology to keep families connected amid the COVID-19 crisis.

When Extendicare Timmins received the news a week ago that visitors were no longer allowed due to the pandemic, administrator Kelly Roy said the staff started thinking of ways for families to safely connect.

A couple months ago Extendicare Timmins set up a Facebook page, and they're using the messenger chat feature to connect families.

There's been great feedback from the families, and Thursday there were about 15 calls made.

"It was wonderful for the residents because they’re really missing their families,” she said.

“Some of our families come daily so this is really hard for them and it’s really hard for the residents too, to not be able to see their family or talk to their family every day.”

There are 180 residents in six units at Extendicare. For Facebook Messenger chats, Roy said each unit has a specific time slot so it's more efficient for staff to run.

“Thank god we have this kind of technology in place because 15 years ago we wouldn’t have been able to do this. It would have been over the phone only. At least with this Facebook Messenger Chat, they can see their family member and the resident can see them as well, which is awesome.  I think this is just a great, great thing that we’re doing,” she said, adding a lot of homes across the province are doing similar programs for their residents.

As long as the facility is closed to visitors, she said they'll continue setting up the video chats.

To make up for people not being able to stop in, the home is also offering different activities in small groups to meet the social distancing requirements.

“We’re running more small group programs as well so that the residents are still engaged within the home to fill the time,” she said.