FaceTime, Skype part of arsenal against virus — and loneliness

FaceTime has hit the big time at Sidney All Care.

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, the care facility has taken a number of steps. It’s screening staff prior to each shift, via questions and having their temperature taken, it has stepped up its cleaning regime, and visitors to its 88 residents are being restricted, said Judy Peterson, general manager at the complex-care site.

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It’s important, since B.C. care facilities have been hit hard by the new coronavirus, with multiple cases as well as deaths.

But Sidney All Care is also taking steps to help keep residents from getting lonely. Instead of physical visits, they’ve shifted to virtual encounters. “We’re doing FaceTime and Skype and video calls,” Peterson said. “So our families are able to talk to their loved ones almost daily.”

It’s a pretty new thing for many of the residents, she said. “We help them with it, obviously, and it’s actually been quite fun.”

Residents are excited to see familiar faces “and amazed that they’re on the screen,” Peterson said. “We’ve had some really wonderful visits with all the kids and everybody there,” she said. “They’re chatting to 10, 12 people at once.”

Similar technology is being used to allow a music therapist to continue working with residents.

People from the community are pitching in, as well. “We have some letters coming in from a group outside that one of my neighbours formed,” Peterson said. “They’re going to be reading them letters.”

Another person showed up with flowers.

Strict rules about visitors are also the new normal at the Wellesley, where only those providing care are allowed in, said general manager Cheryl Chalifour.

She said it’s difficult to convey that to the residents, the majority of whom are housed in independent-living quarters. “We’re asking them to have no social visits at this time, even with their family.”

Video links for virtual visits are being set up there, as well.

It’s one of many changes the 180 residents are seeing — all activities, including bus trips, have been cancelled, and the dining room has been arranged to allow for social distancing.

Cleaning has been increased and there’s additional staff, Chalifour said, and only emergency maintenance is being done.

Deliveries of items such as medication, groceries and newspapers are funnelled through the main door only, for maximum control. People are carefully screened at the entry.

“We’ve disabled the buzzer system so residents can’t buzz guests in if they forget,” Chalifour said.

“We’re taking all precautions.

“We want to keep our building safe.”


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