As visitor prohibitions continue, senior engagement companies and nonprofit organizations across the country are looking for new ways to serve residents.
For example, Birdsong Tablet, a division of faith-based, nonprofit Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, is waiving fees for its online senior engagement and entertainment resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to user-friendly video chat capabilities, the Birdsong Web App contains 8,000 experiences, including music, videos, games, travel and therapeutic content. It has been selected especially for older adults to keep them engaged and connected to family, friends, and caregivers.
The site (and the Birdsong Tablet) is designed for users with limited technology experience and physical or cognitive limitations. The web-based version can be used on multiple devices and features large, picture-based icons, large fonts and a permanent home button.
“As a faith-based organization with a tool that can help during an extraordinary time of growing isolation, we want to use it to help ease suffering on a global basis,” said Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay President & CEO J. Benjamin Unkle Jr., noting that the organization has purchased enough Internet cloud capacity to make the free availability possible.
Also, LifeBio last week debuted MyHelloServices, which provides home-bound or community-dwelling seniors a weekly phone or video meeting to help combat the effects of isolation.
“There is no substitute for the human voice and good conversation. Telehealth includes mental health. Isolation and loneliness are major health risks that must be addressed,” said Beth Sanders, Founder and CEO of LifeBio, Inc. and MyHelloServices. “This is a positive and uplifting experience designed primarily for people age 65 and older.”
MyHelloLine is an outgrowth of LifeBio’s life story work with payers and providers such as Life Care Services, Ascension Living and American Health Communities.
MyHelloVideo relies on its agents, typically college students and high school students, to connect with seniors using specific conversation starters and life story questions asked during 15-minute, 30-minute or 60-minute visits. Topics include childhood memories, school or work experiences, family relationships, historical events, hobbies and interests, and beliefs and values.
Using live video-conferencing platforms including Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts, the AFF team schedules real-time visits where people can watch the animals from dogs to goats and the people who care for them.“Pets bring us comfort during times of distress, but not everyone is in a position to have one,” said Kim Wolf, a master of public health and master of social work candidate at the University of Georgia who worked with AFF to create the program. “Pets Together is a model that brings joy and comfort to those who are feeling socially isolated and lonely. We are all in this together, even the pets.”