By Olivia Beaton | June 24, 2020
Michael Eidsaune, the founder of Carely, an app centered around connecting families and loved ones in senior living communities, believes that beyond PPE materials being readily available, communication has been the biggest struggle facing senior living communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first strategy that has been extremely effective is regular community-wide updates. Family members are seeking reassurance during this time of uncertainty, especially when they cannot see their loved ones. Eidsaune stresses that regular weekly updates on what’s happening, what they’re focusing on, and what’s changing can help ease worry and create a strong line of communication between senior living facilities and families.
Secondly, Eidsaune also believes that dedicating staff members to communication roles will be extremely beneficial. By creating specific communication roles, senior living facilities will be able to ensure frequent updates and strengthen the connections between families, residents, and staff. This increase in focusing on communication has been extremely successful and allows for comfort knowing facilities have dedicated roles responsible for keeping loved ones updated about what is going on in the facility and with their beloved resident. Eidsaune has experienced the positive impact of having staff in specific communication roles and he urges other communities to consider making this crucial shift.
The third key to communication during COVID-19 and beyond is the adoption of and rush toward technology. Eidsaune witnessed many senior living communities that already had technology in place, as well as many that had to act quickly to implement means of technology for communication. He believes that technology allows families to have a window into the lives of their loved ones in their senior living facility and helps keep connections alive when face to face interactions are not possible. There are various technologies out there that allow for instant updates and communication that can help ease and eliminate the worry and distance between residents and their families. Being able to see, talk to, and receive updates about loved ones is an amazing solution during this time of isolation and uncertainty.
Moving forward, Eidsaune says “a lot of communities are going to learn from previous experiences both inside and outside of their communities, as we prepare for a second wave, senior living communities need to take the next step to make communication and technology a priority.” These three practices have shown success during the first wave of COVID-19, and when implemented will continue to strengthen communication between senior living staff and families.