Digital Skills in a Connected Care Home

8th September 2020

Syd and James
Syd and James

When Covid19 hit the country, Les Hoûmets Care Home in Jersey locked down fast. This had the effect of not only protecting staff and residents but it also ensured that family members felt reassured that their loved ones were being well cared for.

However, the side effect of this extra level of protection meant that the elderly residents and their families were separated and unable to visit, hug or celebrate birthdays.

But to the rescue came James Seargeant, Les Hoûmets’ dedicated Activities Coordinator.

James set out to keep everyone connected. Knowing that the residents and some of the families weren’t familiar with digital technology, he sought to find ways to build confidence and develop the skills of all the families.

Personalising the Experience

The first task was to acquire an iPad. Working with Monica, the Home Manager, he was able to identify the residents and families who were keen to stay connected via video technology. He then contacted each family and set up individual calls.

Some families were familiar with WhatsApp, whilst others preferred Facetime  or Zoom. Some were used to video calls using a phone, others preferred tablets or computers. After doing his audit he helped each resident and family member learn the necessary skills to use the equipment. He was present throughout to ensure that the technology worked and that it wasn’t overwhelming to the most vulnerable residents.

“Being able to transport our residents into their families’ homes was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever completed during my working life”.

James Seargeant Activities Coordinator

Problems and Solutions

While most people take video calls for granted, setting them up in a care home has  its challenges. “I encountered two problems” said James “ the first was the iPad was too small for the residents to see the family and this made them distrust the technology. So rather than giving up I linked the iPad to the big screen TV so they could see and hear far more clearly, the family also had the feeling of being in the room with the residents.

The second problem was some  families wanted to use WhatsApp and the iPad was not able to sync with that technology. I used my own iPhone and linked it to the resident’s TV which enabled the individual to see their family from the comfort of  their own room.

Magical Moments – Connecting Families 

“There were lots of magical moments,” said James “ including the time we connected one of our residents with her whole family on her birthday. She had a five way conversation with family who were in the UK. Whilst this was taking place we also had her Jersey family outside the window of the home but on the five way call as well!”

On another heart warming occasion, Hannah, the granddaughter of resident Syd, was able to perform a special song for her grandfather that she recorded on WhatsApp. James was able to play it on the big television screen so Syd could see and hear the song. It was a very special moment.

Syd is aged 83 and was the manager of the Commonwealth Games shooting team for the island of Jersey, he also farmed in the parish of St Martin for almost 50 years. James said “It was a privilege to be part of this very special and moving link up. These magical moments lit up the days of the residents, staff and families”.

“We were so grateful to Les Hoûmets for setting up the video calls which allowed face to face contact with our Dad”.

Sue Le Cheminant 

James said that it felt amazing to connect residents with their families, “It was like we were able to beat the virus in our own small way. Watching how the morale of  residents improved vastly after speaking with their family was really uplifting. Being able to transport our residents into their families’ homes was one of the most rewarding projects I have ever completed during my working life”.

James Seargeant

“Keeping safe, secure, physically distant but socially connected has kept the residents healthy, happy and covid free!”

In the heart of the community

The care home is in the heart of the community and the community took the care home into their hearts during lockdown. Members of the public applauded the key workers, took part in group singing sessions and one local resident had brand new digital tablets sent to the home so that residents could use the technology to keep in touch.

Les Hoûmets and the community around the home is a very special place. The support has been wonderful and the digital tablets have really helped break down the physical barriers and keep the residents connected with their families and communities.

Lucie Filipponi co-owner of Les Hoûmets said “Les Houmets is a very caring care home and breaks the usual stereotypes as it really is  a ‘home from home’ – a place to enjoy good quality of life, good food, friendships and laughter. We keep the residents safe, healthy, happy and sharp in body and mind. James and the staff have done an outstanding job.”