SummitCare is also doing regional Hangouts, where staff from three or four homes in one region and head office staff get together virtually, says Michelle.
“I had one meeting with up to 60-odd people in a Hangout. By the time we added in people’s houses we were at about 18 different locations. It is amazing technology.”
SummitCare residents are also using iPads and iPhones and video conferencing technology, she says. “The homes are mostly using things like WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime. If they can use Google Hangouts they will, but they are becoming flexible.”
“We [recently] did a survey with our residents and had a really high percentage of return where they said we were doing exactly what they think we should do; keeping them safe,” she says, adding that “a very collaborative team” is key to getting the most out of video conferencing in aged care.
“We have very engaged teams in our homes and they only want the best outcomes, as all aged care providers do for their residents.”
Training has been another enabler. SummitCare rolled out digital skills training in February last year to 19 lifestyle officers to show them how to use iPads with residents.
“The whole thing about it is it is trying to get rid of all the myths and misconceptions and get residents interacting with our staff’s help.”
Currently, residents share iPads with about four other residents on average. In addition to video and telephone calls, they are using the devices for the Be Connected program, Dementia Australia’s A Better Visit app, board games and word finds among other things.
“Technology is a great enabler and across the SummitCare group, we’re communicating better within the organisation and keeping our residents better connected.”
A full version of this article appears in the current edition of Australian Ageing Agenda.