While we continue to take a variety of precautions to protect residents and staff, one such measure — restricting visitors — has been hard on the people who choose to live at a Westminster community and their families.
That’s why Westminster Communities of Florida created our Resident Family Connection program to facilitate video calls between Assisted Living and Health Center residents and their family members. A video call can be a support for someone who misses seeing their grandkids, or a lifeline for husband and wife to stay in touch when one is receiving long-term nursing care or recuperating from a major surgery.
We’re pleased that, since we launched this program, we’ve supported nearly 700 such calls!
“It’s been wonderful to be able to see and talk to my parents with these video calls,” said Suzanne Heffinger, whose parents live at Westminster Towers in Orlando. Heffinger said that, with all the necessary restrictions that are in place for the safety of all residents and employees, it’s been hard not visiting her parents – but also a reassurance that they’re safe. “Missing out on a month or a few months is so important, I’d rather that they be safe,” she said. “They would not have been able to do these video calls on their own, but every Friday at 12 o’clock, someone’s there to help them get on FaceTime.”
The Resident Family Connection calls are a mix of Zoom video chats using our Panasonic Toughbooks and FaceTime and Skype calls using residents’ own phones and tablets.
Restrictions on visitation to Assisted Living and the Health Center have been ordered by executive order of Governor DeSantis and by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Westminster Communities of Florida has taken a variety of other active measures to limit the risk of spread at our communities.
Stefani Gonzalez, whose mother lives at Westminster Manor in Bradenton, says that the Resident Family Connection program has helped her stay in touch with friends, family and faith groups. “Before all of this, I used to visit with my mom for several hours a day,” Gonzalez said. “To us, it’s very heartwarming to be able to see her. My sister who lives abroad is using Zoom with Mom, too.”
Another way that residents are able to stay connected with their families is a creative one — e-mails with greetings and photos delivered in person. At Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, Martha Inman, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator, started an “Email-A-Gram” program recently. The team encourages Assisted Living residents’ family members to e-mail their greetings and photos, and then they print them out and deliver them during the residents’ video calls.
“These Email-A-Grams have made a great and positive improvement on communication with our families,” said Katherine Stephens, whose mother lives at Westminster Oaks.
Mario DeLuca, Director of Resident Experience for Westminster Communities of Florida, said that our team members feel that the Resident Family Connection program has made an impact in helping relieve residents’ isolation. “It’s hard not having your family visit,” he said, “but we’re so pleased that the Resident Family Connection program has enabled so many to make video calls and help stay connected. The residents really seem to love them.”
To learn more about how residents and their families can stay connected, visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page.