There is little doubt residential aged care has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict restrictions on visitors, elimination of lifestyle activities and social distancing are causing crippling social isolation for many residents, but one aged care facility has found a way to use new technology to effectively combat this.
Adventist Care in the Perth suburb of Rossmoyne was one of the first in Australia to beta test Swift Media’s new system, Swift Plus, enabling continuous connectivity between residents and their families, reducing social isolation and encouraging them to stay connected to what’s happening in the outside world.
The simple but unique system was developed specifically for older people by Australian company, Swift Media. The company already provides entertainment and information services to 12,000 rooms in aged care facilities including the ability for families to send photos and messages direct to the TV screens, but Swift Plus does much more.
According to Adventist Care CEO Gary Blagden: “Swift Plus is an excellent facility to enhance resident connection to the world outside of their room and to provide mental stimulation, particularly to those who may need to be isolated from others at times within the facility.”
For example, Swift Plus offers a “My Community” channel enabling photographs and messages from the wider community to be shared directly on screens as well as live streaming of events around the home to ensure elderly residents who are incapacitated can stay connected to their surroundings and see what is going on.
The system is not just about entertainment and connectivity; one of its unique benefits is the inclusion of a wide range of calming, low stimulus content, designed to support residents with dementia.
Adventist Care has seen the benefits of this aspect of Swift Plus first-hand.
“Of particular benefit to many residents living with cognitive decline is the immersive programs that effectively settles agitated and restless residents, developing within them a calmness that other methods have simply not achieved,” said Blagden.
Swift Plus was developed in response to the company’s belief that technology could be used to do much more for older people and to ensure their loved ones stay connected with them.
“We instinctively felt there were better ways to deliver communications and aged care specific content to people living in aged care homes, to use technology to create better connectivity and shared experiences,” said company CEO Pippa Leary.
“Development of the Swift Plus system included, listening to the needs of residents and their family members, as well as consulting with aged care industry experts including Dementia Australia, aged care providers and staff. We worked hard to create a system that was easy for providers to operate and deliver the best experience for residents, at low cost to aged care providers.”
The system allows staff to easily communicate with residents about important notices, social activities and meal menus direct to the TVs in their rooms. Residents have access to hundreds of movies and lifestyle content including the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Aged care providers can also create screenings in-room or a special event around the latest ‘must-see’ movie.
Swift Plus is very easy to install and takes 3-5 days on average. Unlike other aged care communication products Swift Plus does not require complex network infrastructure and the company offers full service and support from its Australian offices.