Monday, June 15, 2020

Video Chats With Lizzie

COVID-19 has changed so many things, including how we're interacting with Lizzie.

Before COVID, one of us visited with Lizzie every day. We'd bring tea and chat. We've found that frequent visits help to keep Lizzie attuned to the here and now.

Enter COVID and that obviously had to change.

While we miss those daily visits with Lizzie, we're glad the nursing home (NH) is keeping the residents isolated and safe.

After the first week, the activities staff in the NH started arranging video chats through FaceTime and Skype for all of the residents. With over 400 residents, this was a big task.

Lizzie hasn't been able to use a phone independently for a few years now. A staff member dials the call and holds the screen so Lizzie can see us. Sometimes she thinks we're on TV. 😀
masked staff member helping elderly woman with video chat
Photo by Georg Arthur Pfluegeron Unsplash

Lizzie being Lizzie, the calls are usually entertaining. She sometimes thinks whichever staff member is helping her with the call is another daughter. The first time, the poor young staff member was embarrassed and worried we'd be upset. We think it's great. Lizzie believing she is surrounded by family is an awesome thing! Lizzie even braided one staff member's hair throughout one of the calls.

Because the screen is small and there is activity happening around her, Lizzie can become distracted during the calls. Sometimes she wants to introduce us to everyone walking by. Other days she gets tired quickly of concentrating on the call and zones out. It's definitely more challenging than an in-person visit but we're grateful for every call.

We've found a few things that help. Lizzie loves music so we use that, either singing a song or playing one on the piano. We've even found one staff member who is willing to sing along with us!

Complimenting Lizzie works too. "That top sure looks great on you. Your eyes really pop when you're wearing that colour." "I remember you always told us you enjoyed school. What was your favourite subject/teacher/class/friend/activity?"

Pretending to suddenly remember something is a good ploy too. "Oh! Did I ever tell you about that time...?" "You'll never guess what your grandson did!"

We avoid bringing up COVID as Lizzie appears to think nothing is unusual and that we are actually there rather than on the screen.

Overall we're so lucky.

How about you? Anyone else doing video chats with Loved Ones in NHs? Any tips on distractions? Topics to use or topics to avoid?

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