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Working Together for Successful Televisits

Working Together for Successful Televisits
Working Together for Successful Televisits

Date: 2020-06-08

While in-person visiting restrictions are in place, St. Joseph’s Care Group (SJCG) staff are helping our clients stay in touch with friends and family through phone and video calls, also known as televisits. For some clients, it may be a simple helping hand to schedule a time for a call and assist with the tablet or other device. However, for people living with dementia, there are some additional considerations for family and friends to keep in mind to have an enjoyable televisit.

Communicate specifics with staff

If you know that your loved one needs a gentle reminder to have hearing aids in place, or put their glasses on, mention that to staff. “For a person with dementia especially, the five senses are so important. If a person with dementia can’t see properly or can’t hear properly, that can be a problem,” notes Alison Denton, Manager of the North West Regional Seniors’ Care Program, who has been helping to coordinate televisits. “It’s about making sure they have all their aids to facilitate a good visit.” She adds that if a client feels more comfortable about a video call by having a peek in the mirror beforehand, to comb hair or add lipstick, staff can assist with that too.

Time it right

Consider the timing of the call. The person you are calling might be most alert in the morning or after a meal or nap. “For a person living with dementia, judging the best time of day is important. If a person with dementia struggles with ‘sundowning’ or has more challenges with memory or cognition, and becomes more confused in the later afternoon and early evening, then perhaps a morning or early afternoon call is better” Alison says.

Keep it simple

A video call with lots of movement and lots going on in the background may be distracting. Rather than crowding the screen with a number of family members, try a call with just one person at a time. “Speak slowly and clearly, and allow the person time to respond,” advises Shauna Fossum, Public Education Coordinator for the Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay. “Ensure you have good audio and video quality, reduce background noise, and keep your face well lit and clearly visible. Showing family photos or familiar objects can be great for reminiscing!”

Help orientate your loved one

People living with dementia can struggle with orientation to time and place, so starting a call with “Hi Mom, it’s your daughter Caitlyn and it’s Tuesday morning. I can’t come to visit you at Hogarth right now but I wanted to call and say hello.”Sometimes people with dementia will respond better to their given name rather than “mom” or “grandpa,” so that is worth trying.

Make it musical

Music can help create a connection, if a verbal conversation isn’t working out at the moment. Consider playing or singing some of your loved one’s favourite songs.

Send a letter

Mailing a card, note, photographs or child’s artwork are also welcome ways to communicate. This can be done using post mail or you can send your message through the online form. There is even the opportunity to attach a photo or scanned item.

Alison says that introducing televisits has been a very positive experience; clients and their loved ones appreciate it very much. Seeing and talking to family and friends, and getting that meaningful social connection (perhaps in their first language, for some) is a tremendous boost to spirits for our clients, and the people who love them. “It’s definitely part of wellness,” she says.

Family members who live out of town are also enjoying the newfound benefits of televisits. For those who live away, televisits have provided a way to be seen by loved ones who may otherwise have difficulty recognizing them due to the time that passes between visits.

Complete this form to request a televisit (phone call or video call) or send a message to a client at St. Joseph’s Hospital, or a resident at Hogarth Riverview Manor or Bethammi Nursing Home (St. Joseph Heritage).

More Information

Alison Denton, MA
Manager, North West Regional Seniors' Care Program
St. Joseph's Care Group
Office: (807) 346-2320
Cell Phone: (807) 252-8562

Shauna Fossum, HBA, MHSc
Public Education Coordinator
Music Project Coordinator
Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay
180 Park Avenue, Suite 310
Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 6J4
(807) 345-9556 ext. 2003


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