Telus donation allows Saanich Peninsula seniors to connect with family

Hundreds of seniors in Saanich Peninsula care homes are able to connect with their families virtually via tablets thanks to a donation from Telus.

Alison Marshall, director of care at Sidney Care Home on Fifth Street, said the response from residents and their families, who can’t visit in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been “wonderful.”

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“The residents are able to see their family clearly and hear them,” Marshall said. “It is very successful.”

Resident Audrey Adrian was able to speak to her daughter Kathy Sugrue this week using a new tablet. “It is lovely to see my beautiful girl,” Adrian said.

Her daughter said it was great to reconnect with her mother, who she is “missing terribly.”

The project began after a local care home contacted the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, asking for help to connect residents and their families.

“They were really concerned for [the residents’] mental well-being and wanted to provide a way for them to connect with loved ones,” said Denny Warner, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded the project.

Warner contacted Telus and the company immediately offered to donate tablets. The program has been a joint effort involving Telus, the Chamber and the Town of Sidney.

The number of tablets donated is confidential, but “it was a considerable number,” Warner said.

Tablets have gone to about 11 local care homes and two home-care workers assisting people living in their own homes, Warner said. Some care homes have received more than one tablet.

When the tablets arrived, the Town of Sidney’s emergency operations centre’s information technology section charged them, installed communication applications and set up logins allowing access.

“It was a big job,” Warner said.

Randy Humble, director of Sidney’s emergency operations centre, said a staff member came in early to spend the “better part of a morning” setting up the tablets.

The operations centre is focused on “making sure our vulnerable population is looked after,” Humble said.

Tablets are shared among care-home residents, who are assisted by staff, Warner said.

Each tablet has to be sanitized between uses, she said. Telus provided an instructional video showing how to properly sanitize tablets between each use.

Not all local care homes needed tablets because some had already purchased them for residents to use, she said.

When Warner saw photos that a care home posted on social media of residents using the tablets, “it just almost made me cry — the smiles on their faces,” she said.

“It was just so heartwarming, so that was pretty special for all of us who were involved in it, just to see evidence of how they were received.”

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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