Danny, a Rocky Bay customer, enjoying a chat via Zoom
Thanks to a simple new initiative, a few pieces of smart technology became an invaluable lifeline for residents at Rocky Bay’s independent living units in Mosman Park.
As COVID-19 closed down traditional lines of communication between customers and the outside world, a few simple pieces of equipment – an iPad, a tablet, and an S-Pro touchscreen – opened the world back up again.
Rocky Bay provided the equipment under the project name, 3T Connected, to 18 residents at Mosman Park. It is planned to be rolled out for 25 individuals, aged 25-72, at Rocky Bay’s Lucy Creeth Nursing Home.
The project, conceived by Allied Health Team Leader, Lynsey Monk, and Assistant Manager Supported Accommodation, Emma Hersey, allowed individuals to reconnect with family and loved ones through FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom.
Additionally, as some services went online, customers have been able to participate in a variety of virtual therapy sessions through Microsoft Teams.
Emma says Rocky Bay began trialling the initiative in the early weeks of the coronavirus to see which applications were the best in keeping customers connected.
“We knew how anxious some families were about the lockdown and how they would stay connected with loved ones. Many of these families would normally visit every day and we knew phone contact could only get you so far. We knew families wanted to see their loved ones to truly understand how they were doing.
“We were also mindful that some therapy sessions would need to be provided virtually so we wanted to understand which technologies delivered that best. Our residents have different levels of mobility and movement so we knew some applications were going to be better than others.”
Emma says all three devices have been delivering equally well across all fronts, but what is probably most significant is that they have allowed customers to maintain their sense of independence.
“The trial has shown that customers adapt well to smart technology and that they don’t need to rely on support staff as much.
“It’s definitely identified more efficiencies in the delivery of services. It’s cut down on the time taken to transport people to hospital appointments or therapy sessions, the waiting times, and so on.
“It’s also saved time which staff would have taken in accompanying and waiting for customers, allowing them to deliver better quality of care outcomes.”
However, Emma says the trial is not over pending further assessments and collation of evidence.
“With such a diverse range of disabilities represented in the home, from cerebral palsy and spinal bifida through to acute intellectual disabilities, some customers cannot navigate touchscreens or clearly articulate what they want. We’re going to need to delve deeper into what switch controls and voice activations we can apply…with Rocky Bay having its own in-house assistive technology team of experts that work in this space, this is something we can immediately look into, which is really exciting.”
However, the evidence collected so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s been quite incredible. Customers are really enjoying the change, and they are bonding together. Some of our telehubs have been absolutely hilarious. In one Virtual Morning Tea session about 20 people joined in, all talking over one another,” Emma said.
“Brian, a resident from the independent living units, couldn’t get a word in edge-ways with his work colleagues.”
Emma shared that families have also expressed their gratitude for the trial.
“I have been inundated with responses from families feeling relieved that their loved ones are still feeling connected to their social lives and their community.
“The photos we have shared tell the story. It’s given customers self-confidence and a new sense of belonging. That’s made it a really enjoyable experience which has created a lot of happiness.”
Emma explained the ability for technology to facilitate communication, connectivity and contentedness will hugely influence how Rocky Bay operates going forward.
“It isn’t hard to see that this is what the future is going to be like.”
Rocky Bay CEO, Michal Tait, says it is highly likely that the initiative will be rolled out across all Rocky Bay supported accommodation.
“Although the 3T Connected project it is still being assessed, the early signs are extremely positive.
“I think it is a perfect example of necessity being the mother of invention. The coronavirus pushed us into a difficult place but we have used its challenges to deliver innovative, sustainable outcomes.”