Keeping the lines of communication open

The national lockdown meant WesleyCare had to quickly come up with alternate ways of helping residents stay in contact with family and to keep their spirits up.

During lockdown, visiting was highly restricted but WesleyCare bought tablets and by using online channels, staff helped alleviate uncertainty and provide comfort and reassurance to residents who would normally be visited personally. It proved to be a popular way to maintain essential links while face-to-face visiting remained unsafe for residents.

Both floors had a tablet each, a booking system, and staff had to don personal protective equipment before taking the tablet to residents in their rooms.

“That kept people in touch during lockdown which was a big thing for a lot of residents and family members,” Care Services Manager Cath Swain says. “The residents coped really well but it was a long haul and difficult towards the end. It was isolating. It was well and good for people in the community who could get out but not so much for our residents.”

Virtual visiting will continue for residents whose family lives overseas and are not going to be able to visit for some time. “It is a really great way of seeing each other, hearing a voice, seeing grandchildren on the screen.”

WesleyCare co-chaplain Rev. Jill van de Geer led four funeral services over Skype and Zoom.

“I was able to explain to people that we could in fact have a funeral service. We had people from as far afield as Canada and England who were able to be present at funerals and through technology could still pay short tributes as they would have done normally.”

She said it proved under the circumstances to be a helpful way for people have a more normal grieving process. The body of the deceased may otherwise have been taken straight to the crematorium without any of the family being present. All the families were pleased the service could be held and it made it easier to have memorial services later.

“It wasn’t ideal but it was certainly a helpful way of enabling family to have a funeral ritual which served people’s needs for the time.”