Residents of Mareeba Aged care send out messages via Facebook.
Residents of Mareeba Aged care send out messages via Facebook.

Aged care homes zoom into keeping connected

THE current coronavirus outbreak has isolated many people in their homes, and it's being felt especially in our aged care homes.

With the facilities regulating to restrict visitors ahead of official orders, many within the Clarence Valley have turned to technology to help keep their residents in contact with loved ones, and the outside world.

"Over the past week, it's not just our residents, but also their elderly family and friends who also have to self-isolate," Mareeba Aged Care director of nursing Rachel Bennett said.

"It's become a difficult time for families and residents, and that's why our leisure and lifestyle team have been supportive and modified our activities program."

Mareeba Aged Care resident John Cookson shows off his message that was shown through their Facebook page.
Mareeba Aged Care resident John Cookson shows off his message that was shown through their Facebook page.

Many of the facilities have started providing contact via online services such as Facebook and Zoom, with Mareeba posting heartwarming photos of their residents with messages of support and hope via their Facebook page last week.

"Even though we're having family members use the telephone connection, it's reassuring for family members to be able to see their loved ones," Mrs Bennett said.

"We are in the process of having Zoom meetings set up with some trials, and hopefully will have it open to use next week."

Mrs Bennett said the reaction from residents had been fantastic, with age no barrier to the new technology on offer.

"They've adapted amazingly well, the residents love it, and they've been really busy," she said. "We have a smartboard here, so we've been playing lots of music from their era, and movies and puzzles."

Mareeba Aged Care resident Grace Andrew shows off some of the artwork she received in a package sent from Cubby House for Kids long daycare centre.
Mareeba Aged Care resident Grace Andrew shows off some of the artwork she received in a package sent from Cubby House for Kids long daycare centre.

Mrs Bennett said a recent highlight was a package sent by long daycare centre Cubby House for Kids, which sent messages and artwork from their children who they had met through recent exchanges.

"They all had a lovely letter, and some artwork, and yesterday when the packages arrived the residents were showing everyone, sharing and wanting pictures taken with it," Mrs Bennett said.

<< Follow this link to stay up to date with the latest coronavirus information specific to the Clarence Valley >>

"Now, we're getting other children from the wide community that have started sending us artwork, which has been really sweet."

Mrs Bennett said they had enacted the restricted visitors to maintain the safety of both their residents and staff, and each program helped keep the residents stay connected, while maintaining a social distance.

Mareeba Aged Care resident Merv Milligan shows off some of the artwork he received in a package sent from Cubby House for Kids long daycare centre.
Mareeba Aged Care resident Merv Milligan shows off some of the artwork he received in a package sent from Cubby House for Kids long daycare centre.