Amanda R. Curtis, Staff Writer
One of the main concerns people have about placing their loved ones in “nursing homes” is just that; it’s not home.
Outside of moving into the room with them, there’s nothing that can change that. However, with the innovative computer system at the Lewis County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, “It’s Never 2 Late,” residents can feel pretty darn close.
The touch screen computer is programmed for activities, games, therapy, reminiscing, music, virtual travel and so much more.
Imagine turning on your phone or computer and having a face to face conversation with Aunt Barbara via Skype. After that call, she will probably miss you immediately. There’s no need to worry for her, though. She can go into her “My Story” page and look at photos of family members that have been added from a flash drive or phone brought in, or that you have uploaded via the website, two thousand miles away.
She can see the video of you and your children singing her ‘Happy Birthday’ from across the country. She can celebrate with the family as her niece reads the acceptance letter she got from the college of her choice.
My Story helps bring words and photos together to tell stories, share history and help residents and staff get to know each other. “This page holds patient information such as where they lived, what jobs they held, hobbies enjoyed and accomplishments received among other information,” says Kayla Spears, Admissions Coordinator. “This is particularly helpful for dementia patients who are unable to remember enough to communicate with those caring for them.”
Also helpful to dementia patients is the youtube application on the system. Even when folks can’t remember who or where they are, watching babies laugh via Youtube will almost always trigger a response inside the brain that brings a smile to their face and/or giggle to their bellies.
Those who are still blessed with a memory are able to reminisce of bike wrecks, snowball fights and family gatherings had in the past, while virtually walking the streets of their childhood home via Google Maps
Speaking of traveling, Aunt Barbara can visit the Egyptian Pyramids or the Myan Ruins like she’s always wanted to with the simple touch of a screen. There is a live-camera option that allows residents to experience an area in real time.
Another concerns commonly voiced from family members is the need for proper care. Not only are the staff members highly educated and attentive, but the system is now able to assist in that care with programs such as cognitive fitness, balance and mobility, mental stimulation and spiritual support.
With the therapy and fitness program, residents are able to stay active by riding a bike on scenic routes, flying an airplane, solving puzzles, participating in Sit and Be Fit and more.
“We purposefully chose people who were not highly involved/interactive with therapy to use this on first,” says Miranda Clark, Physical Therapist. “In the short time it has been in use, we have seen extensive progress in patients who would usually not respond to physical therapy, or would just not try very hard.”
“One of my personal goals,” says Activity Director Margaret Miller, “is to get folks within this center talking to each other, being sociable, coming out of their rooms to get to know each other. This system has helped do just that. Before dining time when patients are waiting to eat, we turn on the karaoke app, and next thing you know, a group is arm in arm singing, ‘That Old Black Magic’ by Glenn Miller.”
“There’s a man,” Margaret goes on to say, “who doesn’t like to come out of his room or talk to people much at all. I’ll leave the computer in the recreation hall with classic cars trivia on, and it never fails to bring him out of his room to socialize with others who are also interested in the classic cars. And, that’s what this system is about: Connection.”
The three units in the Lewis County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, two pedals for physical therapy cycling and a music-making stand also used during physical therapy were all paid for by CMS, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
With the click of a button, residents can visit with family and friends on another continent, across the country, or even just down the hall, and all thanks to technological advances made by those who care. It’s Never 2 Late to have a little bit of fun with technology.