September 1, 2021
We spoke to all our customers at the start of lockdown to check in and see how we could help. The good thing is that everyone we spoke to felt much more prepared for this lockdown and had seamlessly implemented their established protocols without the fear and uncertainty they remember from previous lockdowns.
Lockdowns are very disruptive for retirement villages and unsettling for staff and residents. The industry has responded well and like other badly effected businesses they have been innovative when it comes to mitigating the worst impacts of lockdown. They need to be.
Retirement villages are particularly susceptible to longer and stricter lockdowns. Out of an abundance of caution, they are often the first to increase restrictions and the last to reduce them. As a business they have a duty of care to their residents and staff, many of whom are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
Despite these restrictions and the extra caution, it’s pleasing to see so many great initiatives across the industry. This recent article from <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/126193563/covid19-lockdown-fighting-loneliness-as-visitors-barred-at-aged-care-facilities">Stuff</a> highlights outstanding efforts by lots of villages to conduct online activities during lockdown.
The most innovative operators are going even further than this, by permanently installing age-friendly technology in houses and villas to make residents healthier safer and more connected in the long-term. Lockdowns or not.
With Spritely, every house in the village is connected to every other house thanks to 1-tap video calling from the digital phonebook. This is particularly helpful in lockdown, but residents use it regularly at other times to check in with friends.
Operators and village management use Spritely’s noticeboard multiple times a day to keep residents up to date with important information. During lockdown the latest COVID announcements can be broadcast instantly to the whole village.
Surveys and questionnaires are used throughout the year for a whole range of things. During lockdown villages can easily send daily wellbeing surveys to everyone in the village and video call those residents who feel anxious.
Residents can also use Spritely to access telehealth from their own home at any time by requesting a telenurse call-back, recording health vitals and adding symptoms via the tablet. During lockdown villages can turn on Spritely’s automated clinical pathway for COVID-19 screening.
Residents concerned about their health during an outbreak can be remotely triaged by a care centre nurse based on the latest COVID and lockdown guidance from the Ministry of Health. This minimises in-person contact and reduces unnecessary movement in and out of the village for medical reasons.
Spritely has also just added new features designed to help village operators and residents during this lockdown and beyond.
Our new Homefit series was launched as soon as activities at the village were cancelled. This series, which was created with the help of a functional ageing specialist and presented by a local fitness instructor ensures that each day, residents can get up to 30 minutes of specially designed exercise to improve strength and balance. This has been hugely popular with hundreds of views each day and we plan to expand the series in the future, beyond lockdown.
Spritely also brought forward the release of its new live streaming feature. This is useful for a whole range of group activities from bingo to cooking presentations. The new feature will even be utilised to broadcast village AGMs during lockdown.
Residents can virtually attend the AGM from their own home and ask questions directly from Spritely’s tablet. No-one is excluded and everyone gets a voice. They don’t need a computer, or a zoom account, they don’t need to install anything. We have made live communication to a large and dispersed audience, age-friendly and inclusive.
As operators around the country continue launching new initiatives to help during lockdown, we encourage them to invest in technology that will continue to be used every day and benefit residents long-term – beyond lockdown.
This latest Delta lockdown has been hugely stressful for a lot of Kiwis. Some people think it was inevitable, others avoidable. Whatever your position, it’s hard not to feel frustrated.