New and discounted communication tools that help providers, residents and families connect despite COVID-19 restrictions continue to emerge.

For example, software maker SafeKeeping has begun providing its Family Communicator platform free to all senior care facilities in the U.S. and Canada, allowing any providers who manage resident records with PointClickCare to share updates with families.

The new tool comes as senior care facilities around the nation have imposed strict no-visitation policies, isolating residents from family and putting added burden on staff. 

“We started SafeKeeping with a mission to help senior care centers forge better connections with their customers.” said SafeKeeping CEO Doug Wilcox. “Having partnered with PointClickCare — and thanks to their cooperation — we can provide our software to facilities wanting to keep families connected and give peace-of-mind that their loved ones are safe.” 

SafeKeeping’s Family Communicator enables care staff to quickly and easily send real-time mass notifications via secure SMS text and email. Families also can see resident health information through PointClickCare integration.

Some providers are setting up their own, more traditional means of regular communication with families, or relying on existing tools.

Call-line service

Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation implemented a new Family Call Center call-line service to help family members connect with loved ones who are residents or patients of the skilled nursing facility.

The new Family Call Center service enables families of residents at the New Hyde Park, NY, facility to stay informed even when visitation is largely prohibited, based on state and federal guidelines, to protect  against the spread of COVID-19.

Members of Parker’s Admissions Department, as well as employees from the Institute’s Social Adult Day Health Program, were redeployed to staff the new center. They speak with callers about non-emergent matters, and direct family members to the correct resource. The Concierge Call-Line Service had already been in the planning stages, but Parker’s Administration moved the service forward as an immediate way to help the Institute’s community navigate coronavirus. 

“During this time of social distancing to ward against the spread of coronavirus, it is more important than ever for families to see and speak with each other to stay in touch and overcome feelings of isolation,” said Michael N. Rosenblut, Parker’s president and CEO. “Parker’s new Family Call Center Call-Line Service extends our ability to further help families get the information they need, quickly. And the ability to connect family members through virtual technology fosters family connections, which are so vital during this stressful time.”

One third of seniors experience regular feelings of loneliness according to previous research, and Status Solutions expects those numbers are rising with state-mandated regulations on visitation.

The senior living technology company installs communication and resident engagement tools in senior care facilities nationwide. Its CATIE tool helps staff get real-time updates from patients, allows seniors to communicate with family members and other residents without being in the same room, and lets family members check-in with seniors via an online portal.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Status Solutions is providing the web version of CATIE free to any senior care provider. Status Solutions has also asked children to send in photos that can be shared with residents of existing customers through their CATIE portals.