As lockdowns and social distancing became the new norm during COVID-19, being physically distant from friends and family was the most difficult aspect for many people. Holmwood Aged Care is all about community and connection, and despite the challenges that were thrown their way, they implemented a range of innovative programs to keep residents connected to their loved ones.
Launched in 2019, the Holmwood Facebook page has become a favourite way to stay connected to families and friends and it became even more important as the pandemic restricted face to face visits. The Facebook page was the perfect launch pad for some new initiatives and helped maintain links with the local and wider community. Competitions were always popular as was the #connecteddespitecovidcampaign.
As not all residents have their own social media accounts, the team at Holmwood organised regular sessions to share the posts and photos.
Ben O’Brien, Lifestyle Coordinator, said, ‘These meetings became a highlight for residents and reading the comments and messages from family and friends was guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s faces. We also received many emails from families who asked us to print off some pictures for their loved ones to see’.
The mental health benefits for residents being able to connect with loved ones through social media was endless and during the lockdowns, the team worked hard to ensure each resident had access to Facetime, Skype, Zoom calls, or WhatsApp using computers, tablets and iPads. This initiative was new for many residents, and it was touching to see the joy it brought them to be able to see and hear their loved ones each week and keep up to date with family news until face-to-face visits returned.
Technology was also used to bring performers into the home virtually and help residents stay connected with their faith. Many wonderful musicians, concerts, and religious services were delivered remotely to keep residents entertained and provide continuity for their faith.
The team at Holmwood always supported residents with sending and reading text messages and making phone calls and this became even more important during the pandemic. Staff also became experts at downloading the Service Victoria app to help residents access their COVID vaccination certificates.
As COVID restrictions eased and life returns to normal again, one thing that remains at Holmwood is the use of technology and social media. There are regular small group discussions and education sessions on how to use the many apps available. Residents have their favourites that they love but a highlight for most residents is learning how to use YouTube, so that they can watch all kinds of videos or listen to their favourite songs whenever they like.
Visitors are now welcome back for face-to-face visits, but FaceTime calls remain a staple for several residents whose families reside interstate or live quite a distance from Holmwood. Exploring all the new ways to keep connected on social media has been wonderful for the residents, but for the team the best part is witnessing the joy it brings to them and their families.