Sara Mitchell of Solinity

Sara Mitchell, director of communications & client relations, Solinity

With social distancing measures in place, many activities in senior living facilities have been cancelled. Technology and digital content can offer a solution and some welcome distraction during this time.

Facilities can put digital content to work for countless purposes, including entertainment and resident fitness. With so many online resources available, a new website designed specifically for senior living facilities can help families, residents, staff, and more quickly find top-quality resources for free.

How Facilities and Residents Can Use Technology

Technology can fulfill a significant need for entertainment, engagement, and distraction. Sara Mitchell, Director of Communications & Client Relations at Solinity in Knoxville, Tennessee, notes that resident engagement is more important now than ever.

“The need for resident engagement has not gone away; it’s even heightened now because residents are in their rooms more, there are no group activities, and that social component has been removed,” notes Mitchell. “Technology is one of the resources used in many communities.”

When it comes to implementing technology, facilities have many options. Mitchell explains that Solinity largely relied on using devices that residents already had in their rooms, like smartphones, laptops, desktops, and tablets. Luckily, most technology works across multiple platforms today, so facilities can embrace technology without necessarily having to invest in new tablets and computers to share among residents.

Types of Technology to Consider

With so many videos, programs, games, and other tools available online, there’s no shortage of potential ways to use technology in a senior living facility. Consider the following, which just barely touches on the options available:

  • Tapestry, a social media platform that’s less overwhelming than Facebook, can provide social interaction and help residents to stay connected.
  • Digital word puzzles and mind games offer entertainment and support cognitive health.
  • Podcasts and audio books provide entertainment and are particularly ideal while libraries aren’t open.
  • Online games like Bingo are entertaining and can even allow seniors to play against family or other residents.
  • Meditation apps provide distraction and can help residents to manage stress.
  • Online videos deliver entertainment, can provide how-to guidance for new skill development, and can even guide residents through low-impact workouts like yoga sessions.

How Virtual Connections Can Help with Digital Resources

While it’s possible for facilities to identify and integrate individual tools for residents, there’s a new comprehensive free online resource that can make the process easier. “We had the great privilege of partnering with Juniper Communities,” explains Mitchell. Juniper Communities President Lynne Katzman realized that she needed to provide her teams with online resources that they could access on smart devices. These resources for residents, activity directors, and caregivers, could help to brighten lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, Katzman assembled a team to gather resources into a centralized online hub that could be shared. “We looked for the best ideas that every operator or caregiver or activities director could find,” says Mitchell. “We put them on a website that now has all sorts of activities and topics. It’s become a tremendous resource.”

While the site was originally intended for use by Juniper Communities, Katzman quickly realized that everyone in the industry was facing the same challenge, and decided that the site should be shared and accessible to all. LTC Properties partnered and sponsored the project, making the site available and free to everyone.

The site, Virtual Connections, is now a comprehensive resource that makes it easy to find the best online resources to put to use in your senior living facility. Resources are sorted into activities, culture & education, spirituality, sports & entertainment, and wellness categories, and each category has dozens of resources with direct links for easy navigation. With virtual gallery tours, online sports footage, virtual wine tastings, zoo webcam feeds, and more, this resource offers unique and entertaining technology options that staff and residents might not otherwise discover.

While social distancing creates challenges and stress in senior living facilities, embracing technology can help to make this time easier for residents, too.