COVID-19: iPads ‘a huge hit’ at Okanagan retirement homes

Kaigo Senior Living Group spokesperson says more iPads, staffing needed

Vernon’s Heritage Square, operated by Kaigo Senior Living Group. (Laryn Gilmour - Black Press Media)

Seniors in the Vernon area are becoming acquainted with technology while connecting with family this Mother’s Day.

Residents at retirement homes and assisted living facilities have been living under tight quarantine protocols since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to a provision of iPads from the regional health authority, many have been able to stay in touch with family from a safe distance.

“That’s been a huge hit,” said Wendy Calhoun, director of operations for Kaigo Senior Living Group, the parent company of six care homes including Vernon’s Heritage Square and Creekside Landing and Armstrong’s Pioneer Square.

Calhoun said the Kaigo residencies each received a small number of iPads, courtesy of Interior Health, in mid-April. The iPads were provided to help facilitate care conferences and doctor’s appointments during times of social distancing, but they’ve also become an essential tool for boosting morale.

“It’s been a huge benefit, mostly for families to be able to actually see their loved ones,” Calhoun said. “It’s certainly the way of the future.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Long-distance Alzheimer care strategies offered in North Okanagan

Calhoun says the iPads, while helpful, are in short supply. Heritage Square has two of them to share between its residential and assisted living buildings.

“We could use more iPads, as they are definitely something that we see we’re going to be continuing to use.”

The retirement home is also in want of more staffing to keep up with family requests for FaceTime sessions, on top of the rest of the care tasks that have been made more strenuous by pandemic protocols.

“The consensus of the group is we are all feeling strain of extra demand and short staffing, facilitating video visits, maintaining resident engagement and programs and other duties,” said Calhoun.

“It’s been challenging but we’re absolutely doing the best we can, and our activity coordinators at all of our sites have come up with some wonderful ways to provide a fun Mother’s Day.”

Activity coordinators have purchased Mother’s Day place mats and napkins and organized a travelling dessert cart to serve small groups of residents in different areas.

Residents at Creekside Landing will be invited to open their windows and take in a performance by the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band outside the residency on May 16.

READ MORE: Here’s a phase-by-phase look at how B.C. hopes to re-open parts of society


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

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