Residents in more than a dozen senior care homes across the Saanich Peninsula can now connect, at least virtually, with friends and families as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds after Telus donated a number of tablets.
Denny Warner, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, who is currently part of Sidney’s Emergency Operations Centre, helped to organize the donation.
“We received a request from a local care home that due to the isolating regulations, their residents were restricted to their rooms and were not allowed visitors,” said Warner. “They wanted to provide a way for residents to connect with loved ones so they didn’t feel isolated.”
Enter Telus, with the company donating an undisclosed number of Alcatel A30 Tablets to 13 facilities. Warner said Telus did not want the number disclosed because it might create challenges for them to accommodate similar requests from other communities. “Let’s say it was a very generous number of them,” she said.
Warner said use of the tablets has been high, but the tablets themselves are with the respective staff at those facilities rather than the residents. “It is important that all proper [sanitizing] happen between uses so staff are responsible for that being done,” she said.
Warner said the reaction from staff and residents has been heart-warming.
“We cannot thank the Peninsula Chamber and Telus enough,” said Michelle Beelby, recreation manager, at Sidney’s All Care Residence, one of the facilities that received tablets, along with Norgarden, SHOAL Assisted Living, Arbutus Senior Care, Legion Manor, Bayshore Home Health, Sidney Care Home, Helping Hands, Saanich Peninsula Hospital Extended Care, Island View Place, Resthaven Lodge, Sluggett House, and Brentwood House. “Having more tablets will allow us to have one tablet per floor which in turn allows us to do more calls with our residents and their loved ones.”
Marjorie, a resident at the facility, said the tablets have allowed her to stay in touch. “Being the age I am, I have never even owned a computer,” she said. “I have really enjoyed getting to see my friend Pamela and her dog Lexi. Connecting with them means a great deal to me. It has been wonderful.”
Warner said all recipients received information about how to use the tablets and keep them clean. Warner also credited IT staff for their contributions. “[They] spent a considerable amount of time charging them, loading them with appropriate apps and getting log-ins set up,” said Warner. “They [the tablets] will stay in the community after this pandemic is over and be distributed where they are needed most,” she added later.
The donation happened just before the release of new findings from Statistics Canada, stressing the importance of technology for people living alone to stay connected with friends and family members, order basic necessities such as food or medication online, and seek information.
But not all Canadians have access to the internet with a distinct age gap. While 91 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older used the internet in 2018, the share was 71 per cent among seniors. Older women (68 per cent) were less likely than older men (75 per cent) to use the internet.
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