Technology Tools to Minimize COVID’s Impact
By Roberto Muñiz, President & CEO
As we enter the fall season, the chance of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases is top of mind for all of us, especially for health care providers. Just like we’ve seen in Britain, France, Germany and other European countries New Jersey needs to be fully prepared for a second spike. For us in long term care, it is our utmost responsibility to be ready and equipped with protocols that would limit exposure should a second wave occur.
At Parker we are implementing best practices and protocols learned in this past year to not only limit exposure but combat the psychological effects a quarantine brings. Many of our solutions center around technology. Let me explain how, with the hope that our processes may help inform others.
The use of telecommunications was critical at Parker when COVID first hit. Foreseeing the need for our Elders to have engagement early on, prompted us to purchase additional tablets to promote communication between our residents and families.
We greatly expanded technology for virtual sessions so that outside healthcare providers can provide “house calls” online with our residents. Parker care partners have also used virtual programming to bring some of the at home services we offer to those we serve, such as Health & Wellness programs and Rehab at Home.
Technology has also been used for vibrant social engagement, which we see as a critical need to reduce feelings of loneliness and give meaning and purpose to our residents. We’re providing interactive programming, such as painting classes, games and stimulating social activities via Zoom and other platforms.
Virtual Reality Technology is a unique tool we are using with our residents. We had been considering piloting the technology long before COVID, but were prompted to launch it during this pandemic to help with isolation. I’m pleased to report that it’s making a remarkable difference socially and emotionally with our Elders who are enthusiastically embracing it. You can learn more about their experience with VR here.
Additionally, we continue to evaluate all our communities to determine the best approach to help us eliminate the spread of infections. We have installed ventilation systems that moderate the air pressure to minimize the spread of viruses and continue to explore every piece of new technology available that can help our communities be much more effective with prevention and infection control. I’ll have more to come on this in the future.
I’m thankful for this day and age where we can use technology in the face of a pandemic. These enhancements not only prevent the spread of COVID-19. They are also part of updated protocols being enacted as Parker eventually moves beyond the pandemic and focuses on a healthy, nurturing environment for the next generation of residents. Constant innovation has been one of our key attractions to families; this pandemic has only furthered that commitment.
I believe that Parker is well-positioned for what may come next. But we remain vigilant, flexible and focused. We are steadfast in our commitment to provide exceptional care to our community – come a second wave or not.