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ISOLATION, Loneliness, Boredom.
These are just a few of the issues which may reduce the mental and physical wellbeing of those living in Australia’s aged care facilities.
However, an initiative created to increase Cobden District Health Services residents contact with family and friends may go a long way to reduce these problems.
Local Gary Smart whose grandmother lives at Cobden District Services, has created a booking system that allows the family and friends of residents to contact staff with a time slot within which they can meet with friends or family members on platforms such as skype.
Staff at the residence can then arrange the meeting when they are available.
Mr Smart believes the invention satisfies a need for a more formalised approach to phone, computer or iPad interactions between Aged Care Facility residents and their family and friends.
“I’ve had a couple of friends express how hard it is to contact people in nursing homes,” he said.
“This came about through a situation where a person from America was trying to contact someone in Australia and it took three days and about five calls to talk to them.”
Mr Smart, a software developer by trade who is now the IT manager of another local nursing home doesn’t want to stop at the booking system.
“My bigger vision is to get an iPad or Android app to get photos and videos between family members.”
He sees this as filling a social need for residents.
“They get bored,” he said.
“Photos and family are what they tend to care about.”
Mr Smart’s mother Shirley agreed, adding that Gary’s more structured approach to new technology will increase resident’s ability to join in on activities outside their residence.
“You’ll be able to involve them in all these events that they don’t get to participate in anymore,” she said.
Gary said Cobden District Health Services has been quick to adapt to his invention.
“They’ve picked up the idea and run with it,” he said.
Mrs Smart and her husband Neil have donated an iPad and Apple TV to the facility.
Cobden District Health Services activities coordinator Karen Smith said the facilities staff are grateful for the new options the technology is giving residents.
“We think it’s terrific,” she said.
It’s given the opportunity for residents to talk to the family face to face and if they have a doctor’s appointment they can do it over Skype,”
She also believed technology allowing face to face interaction can have value for residents with dementia.
“Sometimes on the phone the resident doesn’t always know who they’re talking to. With face-to-face there can be more recognition,” She said.
“You can see on their face that they really enjoy this person talking to them.”
Cobden District Health Services chief executive officer Jeanine Creely was also happy about Mr Smart’s booking system and the use of new communication tools at the facility.
“We think it’s wonderful,” she said.
“I’m supportive of anything that adds value to the lives of our residents.”
However there are barriers to Mr Smart’s ultimate dream.
“There are people and resource barriers to making this work,” he said.
At the moment those barriers are funding and time but he remains optimistic.
“Other nursing homes will pick it up,” he said.
“I’d love to get to the stage where people like Samsung and Apple are donating iPads.”
To find out more or donate to Family Connect Project visit famillyconnectproject.com.
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