The loneliness and isolation often experienced in residential aged care can be compounded by the distance between residents and their families.
Meaningful Ageing Australia has responded by publishing Tech Connect: staying meaningfully connected in aged care. Written by spiritual care practitioner Beate Steller and based on her work at Nagle Aged Care in Sydney, it supports aged care residents’ spiritual wellbeing by connecting them with family and loved ones using technology and social media.
Just as smart technologies are increasingly used in aged care to monitor physical health and wellbeing, Tech Connect supports older people to maintain important connections with people and events that are most meaningful to them.
“My work serves a spiritual purpose of enabling the resident to feel connected, involved, valued and wanted in their family life, despite being physically separated,” Beate explains.
Kevin’s wife and Linda’s daughter Maree has early onset dementia and lives in residential aged care in Cooma NSW, near to where Kevin lives.
With her failing mobility Linda, who lives 400 kilometres away, was distressed that she would not be able to visit or see Maree. Beate has helped Linda spend precious time with Maree over the internet using Skype to speak and see Maree. Kevin organises the set up in Cooma.
“We had five sessions over a few months,” Kevin said. “Three of the sessions were very successful but we had trouble with two others with the internet being unreliable.”
“Linda was excited to see Maree over the Skype connection. It gave her a real lift and seemed to brighten her day. Linda was energised by Beate planning and talking about the Skype sessions that she was going to have with Maree. It gave Linda a real focus and purpose for living.
“Hopefully, with the introduction of the NBN in Cooma in December 2017, the speed and reliability of the internet will improve.”
“By offering a practical and sensitive approach to the use of technology this unique guide makes it possible for increasing numbers of older people to experience more meaningful connections,” says Ilsa Hampton, CEO of Meaningful Ageing Australia.
The Tech Connect guide provides an overview of the program: planning, implementation, and evaluation, and including an example of how to use technology to maintain relationships for older people with dementia.
The Guide has already been purchased for use in rural and regional aged care facilities in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria, and in many metropolitan facilities whose residents have friends and relatives in the bush with whom they wish to connect.
Tech Connect is available from Meaningful Ageing at https://meaningfulageing.org.au/product/tech-connect-staying-meaningfully-connected-in-aged-care-a-leaders-guide/