Being a senior in a hospital is a nerve-wrecking ordeal at the best of times.
When a patient is stuck in one during a world-wide pandemic – where visitor restrictions are leaving them lonely, isolated, and scared – it can be a nightmare.
Debbie Kennedy from Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation said one of the most significant challenges is the issue of patient communications.
“One of the things that the staff really notice, is even a virtual visit can make a huge difference for the patient,” she said.
“They’re often calmer, and less anxious, and that just makes for a better patient experience.”
The hospital foundation teamed up with Maple Ridge Community Foundation and the federal Emergency Community Support Fund to see if they could remedy the situation.
“We applied for funding for 12 iPads,” Kennedy said, pointing out while restrictions on visitors still exist, volunteers will keep the iPads at home and communicate with patients, offering a social connection.
They’re calling it the Virtual Volunteer program, and are hoping it provides a boost for senior patients who might feel isolated within the hospital.
“Benefits include an increase in self-esteem and morale, a stimulation of community connection outside the hospital walls, promotion of social support and the opportunity to create friendships which provides overall improvement of the patient experience,” Kennedy said.
She added when volunteers are allowed back on site, they will use the iPads to help the elderly patients set up virtual visits with their family and friends.