It’s really important that the majority of your interactions with residents are face-to-face, but there are some incredible ways that you can use technology in your care home to support the work you’re already doing. Chris Harding shares some of the simplest, and more innovative, ways care homes are using technology today…
The pandemic has seen the use of Zoom skyrocket in recent months. Originally designed for businesses to use in video conferences, it is now used domestically by families to connect, by organisations and colleges to run lectures and courses, by small and large companies across the globe, and so on. Most accounts are free and allow at least 40 minutes of chat time. You can add different people from many different locations to the chat, meaning residents can use it to speak to loved ones who are self-isolating in various different homes. You can access it via a laptop, phone or tablet, meaning it’s easy for residents to have a range of options for speaking to their family. Find out more about using Zoom here.
Most of the services and resources that you use are now available as an app. Just as you can order a pizza, track a parcel and log into your banking via an app, you can also access many of the services you use in your day-to-day role via an app. And that includes The Daily Sparkle, which is now fully digital and available online or via our app. From January our monthly musical CD is moving online too, meaning you’ll be able to access it more easily via an app or a web page and play music and videos in all the lounges and bedrooms without needing to cart a CD around with you. There are plenty of brilliant apps designed for use by people with dementia, including a great list here.
Do you live in an old care home with thick walls or winding corridors that mean the wifi signal can be very patchy? Wifi boosters – which take a signal, make it stronger and then push it further around a building – are a great way to improve your wireless connectivity, especially in bedrooms or more remote lounges, or even the garden. You can get various different ones, from quite cheap to relatively expensive. They’re usually a one-off cost and just plug into a mains socket, so are easy to install.
Wireless or Bluetooth Speakers
The range of speakers that can be connected to devices is impressive now, and even the biggest of lounges can find a speaker which will ensure everyone can hear songs and music. Now that The Daily Sparkle music library will be online via our app and an internet link, you can play songs via your tablet or phone and then connect the device to a speaker, making for a richer, warmer sound which your residents will really appreciate.
Watching TV, listening to the radio, enjoying a film and singing along to music are all an important part of the lives of the elderly. Recent studies show that music, films and TV are key components to well-being, while many residents use the television to keep up with the news and check the weather. It helps them to feel connected to the world outside. Smart TVs, which are connected to the internet, and have a range of apps on them, including Netflix, iPlayer and YouTube, can help you to offer a really varied activities schedule. You can use a Smart TV to go on virtual tours of museums and galleries, national parks and nature reserves, street art and ancient ruins. You could also connect it to Zoom and use it to stream your regular entertainer’s singalong session or a remote chair-yoga class. You can also use a Smart TV for games and quizzes, and even word searches.
One of the most incredible technological tools for people living with dementia, Tovertafel is expensive – and many care homes often do special fundraising events to pay for one – but the benefits are extraordinary. Described as a ‘magic table’, the Tovertafel offers playful, interactive light games that entice older people to get moving and have fun together, stimulating movement, social interaction and moments of happiness. Below is a video of it in action. Find out more.
Virtual reality experiences can immerse people living with dementia into an entirely new world, connecting with all their senses and allowing them to travel to places they can no longer visit. In a pandemic, these have become more valuable than ever. Residents wear a specially-designed headset and can go on a variety of journeys, including to the beach, walking through a forest, walking through bluebells in the woods, climbing mountains or walking around their home town. This leaflet explains it well.
These are three of our favourite online resources that offer something specific and brilliant. All can be streamed on a Smart TV or using a projector.
Songhaven organises over 80 live dementia-friendly events throughout the year, all featuring professional classically-trained artists. During COVID they have continued running their Songhaven at Home programme, a collection of professional 30-minute concert films (with printable programmes) free and online. Find out more.
Worship can be a channel for recalling the past, creating feelings of comfort, familiarity and spiritual fulfilment. Memory Worship services from Westley Methodist Church in Essex feature a regular pattern of welcome: singing well-known hymns, reading familiar passages of scripture and saying the Lord’s Prayer together. The formal part of the service lasts 30 minutes, before leading into a craft activity and hospitality, which provide an opportunity for conversation to reinforce the theme of the service. You can find all the monthly services online here.
Digital Reminiscence Radio
Dedicated radio stations are a great way to keep things fresh and to find surprising reminiscence gems you hadn’t even considered. There are a range of specialist stations available, from dedicated ones for the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, as well as themed stations for swing and jive music all available for you to play in your care home for free. They feature music and news broadcasts from these specific eras and run throughout the day. You can find the 1940s station here and the 1950s station here.