News & Events

Zooming into the future at Liscombe House

June 10, 2020

There’s been a quiet revolution happening at Liscombe House over the past few months: the use of technology to meet, greet and learn has grown exponentially and according to Shaaron Robilliard, Director of Nursing, it has been a steep and successful learning curve.

“Everyone’s world has been turned upside down and yet, for many of us it has also brought us closer together,” she said.

She is using zoom for meetings with OCAV’s COVID-19 response team as well as for training with her nursing and care team when physical distancing and shifts prevent the team from gathering in the training room.

“We are still able to get together, it may not be quite the same, but using technology is the vehicle to get us where we want to be and it will be here to stay,” she said.

Residents too are becoming more adept at connecting online with their families and friends, says Shaaron. Several residents have families who live interstate or in country Victoria who are unable to visit easily either for physical or window visits which is why a call when out to the families at the start of the pandemic to let us know which software they preferred using and to bring in mobile phones and ipads where possible.

“Connection is critical and if you cannot meet face-to-face, then the next best thing is to see a picture of your loved one,” Shaaron said.

For care staff, helping residents use technology, such as skype and facetime, has been labour-intensive and time-consuming and for some staff, it has been daunting especially if they don’t use technology themselves.

“What drives our staff to teach themselves how to use skype or zoom is because they are highly committed to responding to the emotional needs and interests of the residents they work with,” Shaaron said.

But technology is not a boon for everyone. Like most technologies being implemented in a new environment, there are some challenges. Using ipads in the creative arts therapy program has raised many concerns for the therapists.

“Many residents are confused by what they have to do and technology is frightening. It is certainly not therapy,” Shaaron said.

These are essential learnings for OCAV and its team.

“We are all about providing a human experience which is positive and technology may provide an answer but not necessarily the appropriate one,” Shaaron said. “One-size does not fit all.”

And yet, the benefits are enormous. Watching how residents, especially those living with dementia, connect with technology has been fascinating as far as Shaaron is concerned.

“When we introduced virtual reality last year into the Lifestyle Program, it was as if a lightbulb was switched on for many,” she said.

“We had one lady who rarely spoke but as soon as the headset was put on and she was transported into a virtual aquarium, she could not stop smiling or talking. It was a happy experience for us all,” Shaaron said.

Technology in all its forms is here to stay at Liscombe House, one zoom meeting or skype call at a time. OCAV is now investigating an app to help with visitor bookings and many more possibilities.

“Anything which can reduce time spent on administration frees us up to concentrate on our residents. And that is what we are here,” Shaaron said.

Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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