How to Increase Connection During Social Distancing

CAST | April 20, 2020 | by Donna Childress

These resources—and some are free—can help you prevent loneliness and isolation among older adults during COVID-19 quarantines and isolation.

During this time of social distancing, older adults may feel lonely and isolated. Technology can help. Check out these resources to keep your residents connected and engaged.

CAST QuickCast: Supporting Social Connectedness through Technology 

In a seven-minute QuickCast, Scott Code, senior director at LeadingAge CAST, highlights ways to leverage your existing technology.
Explore video chat options to bring residents together in virtual groups. Start video chat classes around music appreciation, trivia, armchair yoga, current events, brain games, and more. Make the most of Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Connect your residents to Covia’s Well Connected free English and Spanish phone conference lines—and a strong community of participants, staff, facilitators, presenters, and volunteers.

CAST Resources

Join the My LeadingAge Member Community: CAST/Technology Group to share ideas and resources with your CAST colleagues. If you’re choosing new technology to help with your COVID-19 response, be sure to check out the Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology Tool.

Free Resident Engagement Tools from CAST Members 

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News reported that if you manage resident records with PointClickCare, a LeadingAge Gold Partner with CAST Focus, you can now use SafeKeeping’s Family Communicator platform to share updates with families, for free.

CAST Business Associate Cubigo is offering a free version of its platform to all senior living providers to support them in their communication and information sharing, keeping families informed and limiting resident isolation during COVID-19. Cubigo's solutions are featured in one of the new CAST case studies. Learn more in "CAST Updates Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology Tool."

In addition, any senior care provider may now use the web version of CATIE, a resident engagement tool by CAST Business Associate Status Solutions, for free. CATIE keeps residents informed; connected to their families, friends, and staff; and entertained.

90-Day Free Trial of Mobile Communication App

Viibrant is offering senior centers a three-month free trial of Viibrant Xe, its premier mobile communication tool. This self-managed mobile app helps communities update residents and manage community health and safety. The tool includes push notifications, to-go ordering, forums, directories, document sharing, and contact forms.

Videos Sought

LeadingAge Silver Partner with CAST Focus K4Connect is asking for performance videos to be integrated into K4Community and shown to isolated older adults. The effort is a partnership with Tony Award winner and Broadway actress Laura Benanti and her friend, Kate Deiter-Maradei of Deiter Mediation.

Voice-First Tech

McKnight's Senior Living has shared "3 ways voice-first technology can help older adults in the era of social distancing." Benefits of voice-first tech include easy communication and keeping in touch with family and friends, immediate access to information, and empowerment.

Smart Homes and Healthy Habits

Smart homes are acting as personal assistants to motivate residents to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For example, Caspar, which is powered by artificial intelligence, adapts the home by turning on soft white lights and playing motivational music to encourage home exercise.

New Crisis Phone Support Services

To help keep caregivers engaged with seniors and families reassured, SeniorVu has reallocated its contact center resources as an overflow for crisis phone support. Some senior living communities are reporting a 200% increase in call volume since social distancing began.

Need for Social Engagement Tech Skyrockets

A recent Senior Housing News article, “No Turning Back: Senior Living Finally Enters Digital Age as a Result of Covid-19,” notes huge surges in demand for technology, especially resident engagement/communication and telehealth tools.
LeadingAge CAST Supporter ConnectedLiving, which provides a leading senior living engagement platform, is seeing that increased demand. ConnectedLiving CEO and co-founder Sarah Hoit told SHN that the need to connect residents and families is now essential, with increased interest in video platforms to connect residents with staff, their families, and each other.
The article predicts a continued need to integrate more internet and Wi-Fi. The pandemic is also spurring providers to distribute more iPads, use Alexa-enabled devices, inventory and test residents' internet of things (IoT) devices, partner with online content producers for free classes and activities, use virtual and augmented reality technologies, and even pursue robots that can entertain and interact with residents.